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Pirates kidnap 20 seafarers from tanker off Togo

Twenty crew members have been
kidnapped from a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker off Lome, Togo, Dryad
Global said.

The incident, described as “the
largest kidnapping event in West Africa within 2019”, occurred some 115
nautical miles southeast of Lome on December 15, 2019.
The tanker, identified as the
19,100 dwt MT Duke, was attacked and boarded by six pirates while sailing from
Luanda, Angola, to Lome with a cargo of fuel oil.
Out of the ship’s twenty-one crew
members, the pirates have kidnapped twenty Indian men, while one Nigerian
seafarer is believed to have been left aboard the vessel, according to Dryad.
The 2003-built chemical/product
tanker is owned by UK’s Union Maritime which confirmed the attack:
“Duke’s crew is managed by V
Ships, and Union Maritime is working closely with them and all relevant
authorities to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. The safety and
welfare of the crew remains the top priority of Union Maritime.”

The latest incident comes less
than two weeks after nineteen crew members were kidnapped from the tanker Nave
Constellation off Bonny Island, Nigeria.

“With the latest kidnap of 20
Indian crew off Lomé, this brings the total number of kidnapped Indian
personnel within West Africa to 89 since Jan 18, thus making Indian nationals
the highest volume of kidnapped personnel operating in West Africa,” Dryad
Global informed.

“This is however not the largest
incident involving the kidnap of Indian personnel, with one larger event
originating offshore Benin on Feb 1, 18 involving the kidnap of 22 Indian
personnel from the MV Marine Express.”

The maritime security company
further said that the newest incident is the 10th maritime security incident
and the 4th kidnapping incident in the waters off Togo this year.

“The waters of Togo and Benin have
thus far experienced a very slight reduction in number of incidents when set
against those of 2018, however, with 5 kidnaps within 2019 against 0 in 2018
there has been a significant increase in serious maritime crime and there is a
direct increase to the risk facing vessel and crews within this area,” Dryad
Global noted, adding that pirates are likely to be using a mothership vessel to
aid operations deep offshore.

World Maritime News.

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