A gang of pirates have kidnapped 19 sailors after waylaying then boarding a supertanker loaded with oil, according to various media reports.
Hong Kong-flagged crude supertanker the Nave Constellation, owned by Navios Maritime Acquisition Corporation, was attacked during the evening hours of Dec. 3 while the ship was traveling through Nigerian waters. The attack occurred roughly 60-70 nautical miles south (reports vary) of Nigeria's Bonny Island Offshore Terminal, where the ship was stocked with cargo.
Seven crewmembers were left aboard the ship by the pirates.
According to sources, 18 of the kidnapped were Indian nationals, along with one Turk.
Security firm Dryad Global believes the attack is part of a growing trend, with six incidents and four kidnappings in the area of Tuesday night's incident.
The string of attacks suggests a well-armed and resourceful pirate action group, most likely operating from one or more "mothership"-type vessels, with other smaller, nimbler crafts at their disposal.
A representative for the tanker's owner said the top concern was for the kidnapped crew, according to the New Indian Express.
"Navios as Owners and Anglo-Eastern as Technical and Crew Managers' prime concern is the safety and early return of the 19 persons taken by the pirate gang. All the appropriate authorities, including the Flag State, have been alerted and are responding and all the necessary action is being taken to secure their wellbeing and early release."
As we noted recently, One Earth Future's annual State of Maritime Piracy report highlights incidents of hijacking, kidnapping, robberies and boarding attempts on the high seas. In recent years, they've recorded a steady drop in the number of incidents in East Africa and around Somalia in particular, which was a hotspot for pirate attacks for years.
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This pullback has allowed West Africa to take over as the Continent's biggest piracy hotspot. Oil piracy is also big in the Gulf of Mexico, where the number of incidents is also on the rise.