Three seafarers kidnapped in Gulf of Guinea attack

Three seafarers have been taken by pirates from bulk carrier Grebe Bulker (IMO 9441312) while the vessel was anchored 4.7nm off Owendo anchorage, Gabon, the vessel’s chief officer told the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Security company Ambrey said that three kidnapped were the captain, second mate and third mate. None of the other 17 crew on board was injured.

The attack was believed to have occurred at 00:30 UTC on Tuesday. Gabonese river patrol boat 20-Class Omboue responded to the bulk carrier two and a half hours after the attack, arriving at 04:10 UTC.

“Over the course of that night, the patrol boat had been drifting offshore Owendo, 2.6nm north east of the incident location,” Ambrey said, adding that “this event underlined the importance of adequate point-defence. Local national armed guards were available in the anchorage”.

Eagle Bulk Ship Management in Singapore confirmed the kidnappings and said the ship had arrived from Nigeria and at the time was awaiting loading instructions. “Once it was discovered crew were missing, the ship was searched, and the local port authorities were informed,” the company said. The bulk carrier had arrived in the anchorage on April 30th.

Africa Risk Compliance said there were no security personnel on the bulker, which was undamaged.

There appear to be at least two separate groups of pirates operating concurrently in the Gulf of Guinea, with one group interested in the oil on tankers, while the other group is interested in kidnapping for ransom, but not in the cargo.

Six crew members remain missing from the Monjasa Reformer, which was seized by pirates on March 26th while it was around 140nm off Pointe Noire, Congo. That vessel was found on March 31st. If negotiations are progressing at a normal pace, there will be hopes that these seafarers will be released relatively soon, perhaps before the end of May.

2010-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 33,064 gt Grebe Bulker is owned by Grebe Shipping LLC care of manager Eagle Shipping International USA of Stamford, Connecticut, USA. It is entered with Gard on behalf of Grebe Shipping LLC. As of May 2nd the vessel was at Owendo Anchorage, Gabon.