Post-Panamax container vessel Maersk Tema was boarded by pirates while underway off the coast of West Africa on Friday, February 14.
It is believed that two men boarded the 5,466 TEU boxship some 90 nautical miles northwest of Sao Tome, as the vessel was sailing from Pointe Noir to Lagos, according to a report from Dryad Global.
Dryad added that two skiffs were seen in the vicinity of the attack. It was further reported that the crew members managed to reach the citadel to hide from pirates.
The container vessel Maersk Tema, built in 2015, is owned and operated by the charter company Peter Döhle Schiffart and Bernhard Schulte ship Management.
Danish shipping line Maersk, the charterer of the containership, confirmed the attack on social media accounts saying that the vessel was attacked by pirates when located 200 nautical miles west off Guinea.
In an update on the following day, Maersk said the ship and its crew were safe and free of pirates.
“It is with relief that we have received confirmation, that the vessel, which was attacked by pirates on February is now cleared and all crew are safe and accounted for. We will continue to offer our full support to Peter Döhle Schiffart and Bernhard Schulte ship Management,” Maersk released on Twitter.
The company did not disclose further details on the incident.
This latest boarding is the 5th incident to occur within the Nigeria – Sao Tome Joint Development Zone since November 2019.
After a brief hiatus, pirates returned to an area that saw considerable success within 2019, Dryad explained.
Namely, last year saw a rampant rise in piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, combined with an alarming increase in crew kidnappings.
The number of crew kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea more than doubled from 78 in 2018 to 121 in 2019. The region accounted for 64 incidents including all four vessel hijackings that occurred in 2019, as well as 10 out of 11 vessels that reported coming under fire.
“Pirates operating within this area are assessed to be seeking to exploit the relative lack of established security presence in the waters beyond the Nigerian EEZ,” Dryad added.
“Pirates have shown a capability and intent to attack large vessels underway indicating a high degree of confidence and capability. It is assessed as highly likely that pirates operating within this area have originated from within Nigeria and are likely to do so with support from a larger vessel.”
World Maritime News Staff