Pirates Seize Tanker Off West Africa, Release One Day Later

Published Nov 19, 2012 12:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

Just one day after hijacking a German-owned tanker, pirates have now released the Liberian-flagged vessel off Togo. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) continues to warn shipping firms that the number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea is back on the rise after a slow season.

An IMB representative confirmed that 12 armed gunmen boarded the tanker on Thursday near Lome, Togo’s capital, off the west coast of Africa. The crew was held captive under threats of harm, while the attackers transferred the ship’s gas oil to their bunker barge.

Afterwards, they raided the rest of the vessel, eventually locking the crew in the master's cabin and stealing their personal belongings before abandoning the ship.

Luckily, there were only a few minor injuries among the 14-man crew. No casualties have been reported.

The number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea now stands at 43 for the year and has been on the rise recently, including several hijackings, kidnappings and killings.

Pirates usually target fuel cargo, loading it onto other ships to sell on the lucrative black market. Regulatory bodies have repeatedly warned ships traversing the area to be cautious and called on authorities to step up patrols last year saying the region was emerging as a new piracy hub. Piracy continues to be an ongoing problem off Nigeria, but it has now spread to neighboring nations.