On Friday, the crew of the recently built LNG carrier La Mancha Knutsen successfully fended off a pirate attack 100 nm off the coast of Nigeria.
The pirates reportedly approached the La Mancha in a speedboat and opened fire with small arms as they came near. They attempted to board the vessel by means of a ladder, but the La Mancha's bridge team used evasive maneuvers to fend off the attack. The master notified the Spanish Navy Center for Maritime Surveillance and Security Operations (COVAM) – the ship’s flag state maritime security agency – using the "panic button" on the bridge. No injuries or damage were reported.
The La Mancha proceeded at full speed to the LNG export terminal at Bonny, Nigeria. She took on a load of LNG and departed on Sunday; her AIS transmission did not specify a destination.
The Gulf of Guinea consistently ranks among the world's worst hotspots for piracy, and in the final quarter of 2016 alone there were 39 incidents of maritime crime in the region. The pattern of serious attacks continued into the first two months of this year, including the kidnapping of the crew of the freighter BBC Caribbean in February.
The La Mancha was delivered at Hyundai Heavy Industries in September, and she is the first vessel in a series of two for Knutsen. Hyundai says that the vessel has a new system for compressing and reliquefying boil off gas (BOG), allowing it to reuse 1,600 tons of natural gas every year that would otherwise be wasted. This should yield a net savings of $1 million annually or $25 million over the life of the vessel, or roughly 50 percent of what the operator would spend on fuel if the ship burned HFO instead.