Pirates off the coast of Nigeria kidnapped 15 sailors from container ship Mozart (IMO 9337274) in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday January 23rd in an attack that was more violent and further from shore than the past norms in the Gulf Of Guinea. Dryad Global said that the attack was exceptional for both its severity and distance from shore, being the furthest offshore incident recorded in West Africa.
An Azerbaijani seafarer was killed in the raid, while those kidnapped were from Turkey, according to the respective governments.
Manager Borealis Maritime said that “Borealis Maritime would like to express their deepest condolences to the family of the seafarer on board of their managed container ship Mozart who has tragically died following an attack by pirates on the vessel in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday January 23rd. The company’s thoughts are with the next of kin of the deceased seafarer and with the families of the other crew of the vessel of which 15 have been kidnapped by the attackers”.
Crew, family members and security sources described the attack as sophisticated and well-orchestrated. Armed pirates boarded the ship and breached its protective citadel, possibly with explosives.
Three sailors were left behind on the Mozart after the pirates/kidnappers left the vessel, which by Sunday evening was receiving assistance in Gabonese waters.
Gabon’s presidency spokesman Jessye Ella Ekogha said that “the ship is in our waters and our sailors are assisting a few nautical miles from Port Gentil”.
The Mozart was en route to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked 100 miles off Sao Tome island.
The office of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday January 24th that he was orchestrating officials in the “rescue of kidnapped ship personnel”. Erdogan spoke twice by phone with the ship’s fourth captain, Furkan Yaren, who remained aboard after the attack.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency reported Yaren as saying that he had been “cruising blindly” toward Gabon with damage to the ship’s controls and only the radar working. He said that the pirates beat crew members, while he had been left with an injured leg and another still aboard the ship had shrapnel wounds.
Ambrey, a security company, said four armed men boarded the Mozart and entered the citadel from a deck atop the cabin.
The Lagos naval command office and a spokesman for Nigeria’s maritime regulator were not immediately available.
David Johnson, CEO of the UK-based EOS Risk Group, told Reuters that the attack on the Mozart could raise international pressure on Nigeria to do more to protect shippers. “The fact that someone died, the number of people taken and the apparent use of explosives to breach the ship’s citadel means it is a potential game-changer”, he said, adding that “It’s clearly quite sophisticated and if pirates have decided to use munitions it’s a big move
Johnson said that there was no doubt that those kidnapped would be taken back to Nigeria’s Delta and Turkey would have little hope stopping it.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said the pirates had not made any contact with Ankara. 2007-built, Liberia flagged, 28,616 gt Mozart is owned by Bomar Mozart LLC care of manager Borealis Maritime Ltd of London, UK. ISM manager is Boden Denizcilik AS of Istanbul, Turkey. It is entered with Skuld (Business Unit Skuld Oslo 1) on behalf of Borealis Maritime Ltd