An armed attack on the Portuguese registered, German owned container ship Tommi Ritscher has seen eight crew taken hostage and a further 11 seafarers escape to the vessel’s citadel, reports security company Dryad Global.
According to Dryad Global the 5,000TEU Tommi Ritscher was at Cotnonou anchorage in Zone 3, four miles off Benin, when it was approached by a speed boat at around 06:40 on 19 April. The approach of the fast-moving vessel was seen by a naval patrol vessel which went to investigate, the speed boat “is understood to have fled leaving the perpetrators on board the Tommi Ritscher,” reported the security firm.
Reports on the morning of 20 April indicate that assistance had been sought from Nigeria who are understood to have dispatched a Nigerian patrol boat NNS Ose with a detachment of Nigerian Naval Special Boat Service that are expected to arrive at 20:30hrs.
It is understood that the situation with the Transeste Schiffahrt-owned vessel Tommi Ritscher remains ongoing, according to Dryad Global, which added, “This is the second incident within the Cotonou anchorage within 2020 and the fifth incident in this location across a 12-month time frame.”
“The waters off Cotonou and neighbouring Lomé have witnessed a number of more serious incidents involving the kidnap of crew at a distance of between 40 – 150nm,” the company.
This year’s piracy incidents off the West African coast:
- 5 March 2020 Minerva Virgo 1 crew (Filipino)
- 21 March 2020 Elobey 6 - Three kidnapped (2 Morocco, 1 Equatorial Guinean)
- 22 March 2020 MSC Talia F seven crew (Ukrainian)
- 2 January: Ambika ( 3) 2 Russian / 1 Indian - Released the 6th Jan 2020 after Navy operations
- 30 January: Cotonou Boat -Limbe – 1 Cameroonian / crew member killed during cross fire between kidnappers and Cameroon forces
- 20 February: Tanker Alpine Penelope - nine crew members (Ukrainian/Filipino/ Georgian) - Released on 6 March 2020 after 14 days.