The 2,824 teu containership Mozart was attacked by pirates near Sao Tome in the Gulf of Guinea yesterday, while it was transiting from Lagos to Cape Town.
According to maritime safety consultancy Dryad Global, the citadel onboard the vessel was breached and 15 crew, all Turkish nationals, were taken hostage, with one Azerbaijani crewmember was killed. The remaining three members were left onboard.
The vessel is owned by Borealis Maritime and is managed by Turkish company Boden Denizcilik.
Boden Denizcilik said in a statement that immediately after the attack all relevant authorities were notified and assistance has been asked from the local navy.
“Borealis Maritime are deeply shocked by the brutal attack on the seafarers of Mozart who have been exposed to this unparalleled violence and call for the immediate release of the 15 crewmembers,” a spokesperson for the UK-based owner said today.
The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s annual piracy report issued earlier this month recorded an increase of piracy and armed robbery incidents in 2020 with the Gulf of Guinea the clear hotspot as kidnappings off West Africa approach Somalia levels from a decade ago.
Incidents in the Gulf of Guinea are particularly dangerous as over 80% of attackers were armed with guns, according to the latest IMB figures.
The rise in kidnapping incidents further away from shorelines demonstrates the increasing capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea. Given these developments, IMB advises vessels in the region to remain at least 250 NM from the coast at all times, or until the vessel can transit to commence cargo operations at a berth or safe anchorage.
“The latest statistics confirm the increased capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea with more and more attacks taking place further from the coast. This is a worrying trend that can only be resolved through increased information exchange and coordination between vessels reporting and response agencies in the Gulf of Guinea region. Despite prompt action by navies in the region, there remains an urgent need to address this crime, which continues to have a direct impact on the safety and security of innocent seafarers,” said Michael Howlett, director of the IMB.