20 crew kidnapped off Togo

A Marshall Islands-flagged chemical tanker, Duke, became the latest ship to be hit by pirates on Sunday with 20 out the 21 crew kidnapped. The incident took place while the V.Ships-managed vessel was underway from Luanda, nearing Lome in Togo, a part of West Africa where attacks have escalated in recent months.

“Owners and Managers of the MV Duke are working closely with the relevant local Authorities and Flag State to try to establish contact with the vessel and crew, their well-being and safety being the prime focus and concern at this time,” V.Ships stated yesterday.

20 Indian crew were abducted, leaving just one Nigerian cadet onboard the ship, which is owned by London-headquartered Union Maritime.

Meanwhile on Friday three of four crew kidnapped from the Greek aframax Elka Aristotle in November were released. The fourth crewmember held hostage, a Filipino national, reportedly died.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I am confused. Confused how ANY tanker, huge ships(!), could be “attacked” by some smaller boat on an open ocean and not successfully repel the attack. This tankers throw off huge bow waves, have excellent high ground to repel any attack. Is it not possible to have a large 50 mm machine gun or two mounted and ready to defend against a local motorboat? Maybe an RPG or two? How hard can that be?

  2. I used to think the same too until I found that the laws of local countries forbid weapons on merchant navy vessels, no help to the poor crew, something needs to be done about it very quickly.

    1. This is not fair but, i think the oow slept and wake up when pirates already onboard, so every oow should maintain watchkeeping all the time.

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