Following the attack by pirates on the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Duke off Benin, a Togolese naval patrol boat has made contact with the vessel, ship manager V.Ships Ship Management (India) confirmed.
On December 15, the oil/chemical tanker was boarded by six pirates who kidnapped twenty of the ship’s twenty-one crew members. The 20 Indian seafarers were abducted, while one Nigerian cadet was left onboard.
As informed, a further tug with new sea-staff, including a Master, is proceeding to the 19,100 dwt Duke with a naval escort. They will resume command of the 2003-built ship which is owned by UK’s Union Maritime.
“Owners and managers are working closely with all the appropriate authorities and specialists to secure the safe and speedy release of the crew members being held, this being the upmost priority,” V. Ships said in a statement.
The company added that families of those kidnapped are being informed of the situation.
Described as “the largest kidnapping event in West Africa within 2019”, the newest incident comes less than two weeks after nineteen crew members were kidnapped from the tanker Nave Constellation off Bonny Island, Nigeria.
Note: The article has been amended since initial publishing as the attack occurred off the coast of Benin, not Lome, Togo.