The peak season for kidnapping off the coast of West Africa appears to be taking no notice of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fourteen crew members are reported to have been kidnapped from heavy lift vessel Zhen Hua 7 (IMO 9166560) on November 13th in the Gulf of Guinea. The vessel was about 78nm northwest of Sao Tome, according to maritime security intelligence company Dryad Global.
It was reported that 27 seafarers were onboard the ship at the time of the incident. One crew member was reported as having been wounded. Later he was taken by frigate helicopter to Sao Tome hospital.
The vessel was subsequently escorted by Italian Navy frigate Frederico Martinengo to South Tome.
This was the eighth offshore incident within the Gulf of Guinea in the past nine days and is the 21st kidnapping within the Gulf of Guinea within 2020. There have been 110 seafarers kidnapped.
Dryad said that, while it was not confirmed that the activity over the past nine days was perpetuated by a single PAG, the risk profile for all vessels operating within the region remained at “critical”, with attacks assessed as highly likely and expected daily.
As of early November 15th the vessel was heading for Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. 1998-built, Liberia-flagged, 44,471 gt Zhen Hua 7 is owned by Zhen Hua 7 Shipping Co care of manager Shanghai Zhenhua Shipping Co Ltd of Shanghai, China. It is entered with North of England Club on behalf of Zhen Hua 7 Shipping Co Ltd