International maritime community and stakeholders are now seriously worried of the true, deadly state of the waters of Gulf of Guinea, as news filtered that aside from the attack on a Bulk carrier, VINALINES MIGHTY which was laid castrate on December 30, two more ships were equally attacked, in different positions, and at different time, with no fewer than eight crew kidnapped.
You would recall that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi recently indicated that he shunned participation at the recent London election of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), for fear of embarrassment arising from piracy attacks. Sadly, the election saw Nigeria’s hope for Council ‘C’ Seat being dashed, after losing by just one vote.
A stakeholder who spoke on conditions of anonymity lamented that the pirates have finally, seemingly taken over the waters of the Gulf of Guinea.
“Everyone is helpless. The authorities are helpless. The pirates have taken over. They just cherry pick any ship out there now! It is sad!”, he said, grieving that the foreign shipping companies could surge the insurance premiums now, and this could adversely affect cost of goods in the country.
Speaking in the same vein, an industry watcher, Anthony Emordi said while he was glad that the Nigerian armed guards were able to thwart two attacks, because they were on board in recent attacks, the fact that the country has no proactive formula for checkmating the hoodlums, is an affirmation that the country is genuinely helpless.
Perhaps, shipping in Gulf of Guinea now needs private armed guards, provided by international security agencies.
Sadly, Fleetmon indicated that a Product tanker, HAPPY LADY was attacked at around 2300 hours, on Dec 30, while in position 04 00N 009 06E, some 6 nm SW of Limbe, Cameroon, where tanker was anchored since late November.
Ironically, rather than blame the authorities for failing to provide adequate security, some operators have blamed the crew managers, wondering what nature of happiness made it to berth and remained anchored in such dangerous waters, and for such a long time, without being attacked.
Sadly again, information on the attack remain sketchy, neither was there anything yet, in respect of the fate of the crew, especially in terms of safety or injury. Except that eight crew, out of the 28 on-board were kidnapped, comprising five Greeks, two Filipinos, and one Ukrainian.
Meanwhile, a Bulk carrier, DROGBA was also attacked at around 0030 UTC Dec 30 in Bight of Bonny, Gulf of Guinea, some 45 nm SSW of Bonny, while en route from Lagos to Port Harcourt, in Nigeria.
Dryad Global highlighted that the crew went to citadel, pirates encountered Nigerian Navy armed team on board, and fled.
The crew is therefore understood to be safe, which explains why the Bulk carrier safely arrive Port Harcourt in the evening of Dec 30.