Dutch ship operator De Poli Tankers Holding BV said 15 seafarers have been taken hostage in the Gulf of Guinea. The Davide B tanker came under attack some 210 nautical miles south of Cotonou, Benin on March 11.
De Poli issued a statement on March 15 to say the company was trying to establish contact with the seafarers taken hostage. Six other seafarers from the vessel remain safe and unhurt on board the ship.
The vessel is currently being escorted to a safe anchorage at a nearby port in the Gulf of Guinea. De Poli is arranging for the repatriation of the six seafarers and the arrival of a replacement crew who will be joining the vessel in West Africa.
Davide B is a 2016-built chemical tanker which was on a commercial voyage from Riga, Latvia to Lagos, Nigeria. The vessel is flying the Maltese flag.
The International Maritime Bureau says this attack could signal a reignition of serious kidnapping incidents in the Gulf of Guinea after a period of relatively low activity during the last four weeks after much focus was centred on heightened kidnapping activity in the region.
“This would be totally unacceptable, and there remains an urgent need to address this crime, which continues to have a direct impact on the safety and security of innocent seafarers. Flag States and seafarer nations are urged to voice their opinion and back the shipping industry in their continued efforts to muster an immediate and meaningful response to this criminal activity,” IMB says.
IMB data shows that the Gulf of Guinea recorded the highest ever number of crew kidnapped in 2020, with 130 crew taken in 22 separate incidents. This compares to the previous high of 121 crew kidnapped in 2019 from 17 incidents.