A report by Dryad Global late Thursday informs that the fishing vessel Atlantic Princess (IMO 8124412) has been boarded by pirates 65 nautical miles, South of the Ghana port of Tema taking five of the crew members hostage.
The attack by pirates on the Atlantic Princess took place in position 04° 33.5N, 000° 15.6 E at 18h30 UTC on Wednesday, 19 May 2021, the location being 65 n.miles south of the Ghanaian port.
Atlantic Princess is a 55-metre long, 10.6m wide tuna fishing vessel built in 1982 and is currently registered in Ghana with her homeport being Takoradi.
The pirates arrived at the scene of the attack in a single speedboat with eight pirates onboard. Before the boarding took place the fishing vessel was fired on by the attackers, five of whom then swarmed aboard the Atlantic Princess.
After taking control of the vessel the pirates forced the crew to head south until they were about 100 miles south of the Ghana coast, before they left the vessel, taking five of the crew with them.
Those kidnapped were the Korean master, three Chinese officers (chief officer, second officer & chief engineer), and the Russian bosun.
In its analysis Dryad says this attack ends a significant hiatus of activity within the Gulf of Guinea and is the first kidnapping incident since 15 March 2021.
Dryad reports that so far in 2021 there have been 56 personnel kidnapped across five incidents from vessels operating within the Gulf of Guinea.
This latest incident represents the furthest westerly kidnapping within the Gulf of Guinea to date. Dryad points out that trends across the past 18 months have indicated a broadening of the piratical footprint within the Gulf of Guiana, beyond the traditional heartland of the Nigerian EEZ.
Nevertheless, the remaining crew from the fishing vessel identified the pirates as being Nigerian. They also reported that two hours before the attack, a rusted looking mini tanker vessel was sighted near the horizon with its AIS switched off. The fishing vessel is understood to have manoeuvred away from the suspicious tanker.
Dryad says that given the significant distance of the incident from Nigerian waters, it remains a realistic possibility that the vessel sighted by the crew was being used as a mothership form which to launch and sustain deep offshore operations.