An ultramax bulker named Rowayton Eagle has been boarded by a group of pirates some 200 nautical miles of the coast of Accra, Ghana.
The Marshall Islands flagged vessel, built in 2013, is operated by Eagle Bulk.
The ship, which had been drifting since January 27th, was boarded on Saturday with the incident reportedly still ongoing.
“This is the 7th offshore incident this year and the third recorded offshore boarding. Total incidents throughout West Africa in 2020 showed a partial increase of 12% on those of 2019,” maritime security firm, Dryad Global said.
“Incidents involving failed approaches showed a significant increase within 2020 with 25 such incidents recorded against 10 in 2019. Unsuccessful attempts at boardings are likely to increase desperation, particularly with incidents deep offshore distant from shore lines.”
The attack is being reported on the back of one of the most severe incidents in the region this year, which claimed the life of one seafarer and saw 15 others kidnapped. Hapag-Lloyd, the vessel operator, said that the pirates destroyed parts of the bridge, and that the vessel is currently unable to continue her voyage without significant delay.
Globally, a total of 135 crew were kidnapped from their vessels in 2020, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95% of crew numbers kidnapped, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in its latest piracy report.
A record 130 crew members were kidnapped in 22 separate incidents, as the Gulf of Guinea experiences an unprecedented rise in the number of crew kidnappings since 2019.
Following the rising number of attacks in the region, the world’s largest container shipping company Maersk recently called for the establishment of a naval mission to the Gulf of Guinea to bring an end to terrorizing of seafarers while crossing the area. The call came after two of its vessels fell victim to pirate attacks within less than a month.
In response to the increasing calls from the shipping industry to bolster security in the region, the European Union is working on launching the first pilot case of the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) concept in the Gulf of Guinea.
The CMP would support efforts by the coastal states and the organisations of the Yaoundé Architecture to address increasing security challenges in the region.