Sea pirates in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region have kidnapped six sailors who were crew members of a Palau-flagged tanker ship at the Bonny Outer Anchorage, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC).
IMB Piracy Reporting Centre said the incident occurred on Friday April 19, 2019 when the ship, identified as the 3,100 dwt Apecus, was reportedly boarded by unauthorized persons who kidnapped the six seafarers. The remaining crew was reported safe.
“The Nigerian Navy was notified and an investigation into the incident has been launched,” the piracy watchdog said in a statement on Wednesday.
Built in Germany in 1973, Apecus is owned by the US-based Petronav Carriers, according to data provided by VesselsValue.
Nigerian pirates recently hijacked another merchant ship, robbing the vessel’s crew. The unidentified ship was freed in the Gulf of Guinea by a Spanish warship on April 9, 2019, having been held hostage by pirates for four days.
The incident was followed by one more pirate attack involving an anchored product tanker off Nigeria. On April 15, four persons armed with automatic weapons boarded an unnamed vessel at Bonny River Inner Anchorage. The onboard Nigerian naval guards returned fire resulting in the persons retreating into their boat and escaping.
Nigeria has been a hotspot for piracy incidents over the past decade but the country reported 14 incidents of piracy for the first quarter of this year compared to 22 incidents reported in the first quarter of 2018. A report by IMB Piracy Reporting Centre released early April attributed the decline to Nigerian Navy’s increased efforts to “actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats”.
It however said that Nigerian waters remain risky for vessels despite the efforts of the navy.