Pirates free tanker hijacked off Ghana coast

General News of Tuesday, 5 August 2014


090410 Nigeria+pirates

An oil tanker hijacked off the coast of Ghana in July has been released by pirates, the International Maritime Bureau has confirmed.

Besides cargo officer Yeo Eu Loone, 38, there were 12 Chinese, six Myanmar nationals and two Koreans in the crew, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said.

Owners of the MT Hai Soon 6 – flying a Kiribati flag – have also confirmed that the bunker barge had been released after the pirates stole part of the ship’s cargo around 60 nautical miles east of Lagos, Nigeria. All 21 sailors are reported to be safe, the Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2014 of the IMB revealed.

The MT Hai Soon 6 was boarded and hijacked by a group of 10 armed pirates in a wooden boat on July 25th about 46 nautical miles south of Anloga in the West African nation of Ghana during bunkering operations. The mother vessel immediately reported the incident to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, prompting an alert to all ship’s in the area to be on guard for the hijacked tanker.

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The vessel was last reported to be sailing in a south-easterly direction towards Nigerian waters before all contact was lost. The IMB said that the owners of the Hai Soon 6 re-established contact with the vessel on August 3rd in Nigerian waters, and it was reported that the pirates had stolen part of the cargo by transferring it to pirate vessels.

It is not clear whether a ransom has been paid, and the hijacking appeared to have been aimed at stealing fuel.

The IMB reports that West African piracy accounted to up to 19 percent of attacks worldwide last year.

Nigerian pirates were the most active, being involved in 31 of 51 attacks reported in the region.

“We heard the good news of the release and subsequently located the vessel in exactly the place we expected to, off the Niger Delta and over 200 miles from the point that the Hai Soon 6 went missing,” the Chief Operating Officer of Dryad Maritime, Ian Millen, told gCaptain.

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Millen added: “The bad news is that this is the third successful cargo theft this year in West Africa. From Angola in the south to Ghana in the west, 2014 has seen Nigerian gangs continue to demonstrate their ability to hijack vessels at considerable range from the criminal’s origins, invariably in the Niger Delta.

“The fact that they manage to take and retain control of a vessel, remaining undetected for up to a week, whilst organizing an STS operation to offload the cargo, tells you all you need to know about the relative abilities of the gangs and the regional states that are struggling to deal with this problem. The initiative very clearly lies with the bad guys and turning the tables on them is long overdue.”