Seventeen crew members on board the MSC Talia F, which was attacked by pirates suffered a three-hour ordeal as the attackers searched for hostages on board the vessel, eventually taking seven crew, including the captain and chief mate.
The 957TEU Talia F was attacked on 22 March some 52 miles off the coast of Gabon, by an unknown number of pirates carrying weapons. Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence company, said that this kind of attack is becoming more common, partly because the rewards are higher, but also because satellite technology was making stealing and disposing of cargo considerably more difficult.
Dryad Global partner Munro Anderson told Container News, that he suspects the kidnappers were Nigerian because they spoke English and Nigeria is the main anglophone country in the region.
Anderson went on to say that it is unclear how the remaining ten crew escaped capture during the three-hour ordeal, during which the pirates were on board and in control of the vessel, because contrary to early reports on the attack the vessel has no citadel.
MSC have not given any more information to Dryad Global following the attack, though Anderson said the vessel was back under the control of the ship’s crew. He was uncertain whether a ransom had been demanded, “The pirates may have been in touch [with MSC] but the company has not contacted us,” he said.
Typical ransoms range from US$29,000 to US$500,000 and there have been three incidents this year involving 19 personnel snatched from vessels this year. In the first incident on 2 January the crew were released after five days.
In the second incident six Georgian and four Filipinos were taken with five crew released so far. That record is considerably lower than the first three months of 2019 when 62 crew were kidnapped, many of which were snatched during two significant incidents.
Anderson believes the pirates are ready to take the larger risks in an effort to get larger rewards, with the attackers venturing much further out to sea, up to 200 nautical miles, and with the possible support of a mother ship.
MSC had responded to Container News at the time of publication.