A Singapore-registered oil tanker has been boarded by “unidentified persons” about 300 nautical miles (555km) off Ivory Coast in the Gulf of Guinea, the city-state’s port authority said.
The Gulf of Guinea was long known as a hotspot for global piracy, with insurance firm Beazley offering the “Gulf of Guinea Piracy Plus”, a bespoke insurance plan for maritime crew travelling through the area. The maritime zone covers 11,000sq km (4,247sq miles) and stretches from Angola to Senegal.
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But piracy incidents have dwindled since 2021 as national authorities stepped up security efforts, helped by foreign naval ships, the United Nations says.
The tanker Success 9 had 20 crew members of various nationalities on board including one Singaporean when it “was boarded by unidentified persons” on Monday, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said.
In a statement on Tuesday, the MPA said it was working closely with the ship owner, Monrovian maritime rescue officials and the city-state’s Changi command and control centre to monitor the situation and provide assistance.
It gave no further details of the incident, such as the nationalities of the rest of the crew.
Hai Soon Group, a Singapore-registered company that owns the tanker, declined immediate comment, saying it awaited further updates.
The tanker has been operating in the West African zone for the past 60 days, Refinitiv ship-tracking data showed.
Its last shipping fixture record showed it was carrying diesel, according to Vortexa data.
A patrol boat sent out to rescue the tanker had been unable to locate it as its beacon had been turned off, an Ivorian security source involved in the matter said.
“We think it’s an act of piracy because the modus operandi is the same,” the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters news agency, adding, “We have sought external help from Spain and from Europe.”
Pirates hijacked a Danish-owned ship off the Republic of Congo last month and kidnapped some of the crew before abandoning the vessel.