The Russian navy has foiled a pirate attack on one of Mediterranean Shipping Company’s container vessels.
The navy’s press statement said that around 1 pm local time on 25 October, its anti-submarine ship Vice-Admiral Kulakov was patrolling the waters around the Gulf of Guinea when it received a distress signal from the 1,823TEU MSC Lucia.
At the time, the Panama-flagged MSC Lucia was sailing from Lome, Togo to Douala, Cameroon.
A Ka-27PS military helicopter with a marine unit was immediately lifted from the Vice-Admiral Kulakov, and immediately headed for the incident area, while the anti-submarine ship sailed towards the area.
The navy said, “When the helicopter approached, the pirates left the ship, got into a high-speed boat and headed at full speed towards the shore.”
The navy said that the pirates were armed and attempted to seize the MSC Lucia, prompting the ship’s crew to take refuge in the engine room, where they sent the distress signal.
The Russian military helicopter circled the MSC Lucia to ensure that there were no pirates remaining on the vessel. Subsequently, a group of anti-terror naval officers from Vice-Admiral Kulakov boarded the MSC Lucia, freed the crew and inspected the vessel.
When it was confirmed that there were no pirates left on the MSC Lucia, the Vice-Admiral Kulakov escorted the container ship to its destination.
"The incident has been resolved and all crew members have been found safe and unharmed," confirmed MSC in a statement.
Additionally, the Swiss company expressed its gratitude to MDAT-GoG, IMB Piracy centres, the Russian and Italian Navies for the cooperation that led to this successful rescue.
"This incident underscores the importance of maintaining the increased presence of naval forces and assets in the Gulf of Guinea," noted MSC and added, "it highlights that progress in the fight against maritime piracy requires a solid framework of cooperation and coordination at international, regional and national levels."
The Gulf of Guinea has been a piracy hotspot for several years, even as piracy and sea robbery incidents have fallen to a 27-year low in the first six months of this year.
International Maritime Bureau director Michael Howlett noted in July that the Gulf of Guinea continues to be particularly dangerous for seafarers, with 32% of all reported incidents taking place in the region.
Gulf of Guinea accounted for all 50 kidnapped crew and the single crew fatality recorded by IMB during the first half of 2021.