The Panama-flagged tanker Pantelena, which went missing on August 14, has been found in the waters of Congo, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Friday, August 24.
The ministry said that the 17 Georgian sailors on board are reported to be alive and well, adding that the ship was heading toward Lome, the Republic of Togo. According to the Russian media, there are also two Russian sailors on board the vessel.
As disclosed, activities were underway in cooperation with the shipping company Lotus Shipping from Greece to provide the crew with food, drink and other basic necessities once in port.
Details of the ship’s disappearance were not disclosed and the ministry said it would provide the public with the required information when the ship arrives in safe waters.
Georgian TV portal 1tv reported that the ship was in fact hijacked by armed pirates, who held the ship’s crew locked up in a room on board the vessel for nine days. Citing the ship’s captain, Lasha Gadilla, the tv portal said the sailors were released on the tenth day, however, the terms of their release were not revealed.
An investigation is underway in coordination with the Panama Ship Registry and other relevant authorities, including naval forces in the region, into the incident.
The 2006-built tanker was sailing in the Gulf of Guinea, a known piracy hotspot, when it went off radar.
World Maritime News Staff