The Gulf of Guinea region saw a 40% increase in the number of kidnappings in the first nine months of this year, compared with the same period last year, ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in its latest report.
Fourteen crew members were reported on 13 November to have been kidnapped from a heavy lift vessel in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Liberia-flagged Zhen Hua 7 was boarded while drifting 78 nautical miles northwest of Sao Tome, Dryad Global said.
It is understood that 27 seafarers were onboard the ship at the time of the incident. Apart from the fourteen kidnapped men, one crew member was also wounded, according to data provided by Vessels Value.
Following the attack, the 48,100-dwt vessel was inbound South Tome, escorted by the Italian Navy frigate Frederico Martinengo.
This incident was the eighth offshore incident within the Gulf of Guinea within only nine days.
What is more, the latest incident is the 21st kidnapping within the Gulf of Guinea within 2020. The total number of crews kidnapped from vessels throughout the area in 2020 is 110.
It was reported in October by Dryad Global that an LNG carrier, identified as Methane Princess was boarded and attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, resulting in the kidnapping of one crew member.
The 138,000 cbm vessel was said to have been attacked shortly after breaking off loading operations. The alarm was sounded and all seafarers on deck managed to retreat to citadel. One man entering the citadel was injured.
Two crew members, Filipino nationals, were on the jetty and both of them were taken hostage.
Luckily, one of the kidnapped crew members jumped off the pirate vessel and was rescued. However, he sustained injuries to an unknown extent.
The attack on Methane Princess coincided with another incident in the Gulf of Guinea involving an oil/chemical tanker. The ship, M/T PTI Nile was allegedly boarded some 115 nautical miles South of Lome, Togo, on 17 October. Reports state that the entire crew managed to retreat into the citadel and they are all accounted for, Dryad Global further said.
There have been 132 attacks since the start of 2020, up from 119 incidents in the same period last year. Of the 85 seafarers kidnapped from their vessels and held for ransom, 80 were taken in the Gulf of Guinea – in 14 attacks reported off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana.