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Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press-release on Jan 9 13 stating that the four kidnapped officers of the Italian AHTS Asso Ventuno were released by the Nigerian pirates, and will soon return home. No comments on terms of release, but there is little doubt that the sailors were released against ransom. No news yet about the fate of 5 Indian officers kidnapped from tanker SP Brussels on Dec 17.
Asso Ventuno attack, some new details. Pirates were tipped off again?
Maritime Bulletin received a report on the Italian AHTS Asso Ventuno attack, which was circulated among the offshore vessels working in Gulf of Guinea:
Vessel sailing from ERHA field to ONNE port
Nationality of crew: Italian, Ukrainian, Nigerian
On 23 Dec 2012 at 1945 hrs local time , at position 04 deg01N – 005 deg 14E, 40nm West South West Bayelsa coastline, 7 pirates in 2 speed boats has boarded an offshore supply vessel ASSO VENTUNO and have kidnapped four crew members ( Captain, C. Engineer, C.Mate, Second Engineer). (Italian/ Ukrainian)
No injuries to crew were reported and the vessel continued passage to a safe port.
The location of the attack is the same as for the MV WAO BRASS, MV JANICE 1, MT BRUSSELS the 17th December 2012.
Security in the area: No escort.
AHTS Asso Ventuno didn’t have guards on board or escorting boat with guards, either private or military. It is understood from the report, that there were 3 attacks on Dec 17 in the area where Asso Ventuno was attacked, while only one has become known to general public. We know about the attack of tanker SP Brussels, and the kidnapping of four Indian officers. We didn’t know about the attack on Nigerian vessels Wao Brass and Janice 1. Earlier this year, in December and October, there were at least two more attacks, including well-known kidnapping of the AHTS Bourbon Liberty 249 officers.
On the face of it, it may be assumed that the pirates know what they’re doing, and what foreign vessels to attack. Nigerian vessels putting aside, all foreign vessels attacked in this area, were somehow known to pirates in advance, pirates knew their position and most importantly, pirates knew that the vessels were defenceless. Somebody somehow is tipping pirates off. Offshore vessels which work in the area on a constant basis seem to have, partially, Nigerian crew, presumably because it’s a must. The security services foreign vessels employ more often, than not, has to be local, too. The security situation in Gulf of Guinea, with all aspects involved, from number and brutality of attacks (level of violence is unknown, thanks to the owners and to IMB, who conceal the details of attacks), corruption, treason, necessary use of local securities, to the role of authorities and navy, is totally, helplessly, unknown. It’s a black box.
The explanation is purely economical. States of Gulf of Guinea don’t care for the safety of the vessels, and seafarers on board, as long as it doesn’t result in financial losses and negative political consequences. Foreign companies working in the region find the losses originated by the attacks and kidnappings acceptable in comparison with profits they get. It won’t go like this forever, though. If the number of attacks and kidnappings will grow at the rate we witness this year, some trouble is inevitable – maybe crews will massively protest and reject working in the area, maybe there will be some nasty accidents (like mass crew murder) resulting in big scandals, but trouble is brewing. UN, IMO and Round Table didn’t figure out yet, how to make the piracy of Gulf of Guinea profitable, so they keep low, putting the problem off with usual clichés about the anxiety the feel.
Offshore supply vessel Wao Brass IMO 8978423, flag Nigeria, manager/owner WEST AFRICA OFFSHORE LTD, Nigeria.
Research vessel Janice 1 Callsign:HP6482, flag Nigeria.
Italian supply vessel Asso Ventuno attacked in Nigeria, 4 officers kidnapped
Italian offshore supply vessel Asso Ventuno attacked by Nogerian pirates at 1945 LT Dec 23 in position 004 01N 005 14E, see map. Pirates kidnapped four officers, three Italians (including 37 years old captain) and one Ukrainian, and presumably ransacked the crew before escaping. Vessel is believed to be safe, reaching an unidentified port. Offshore supply vessel Asso Ventuno IMO 9183192, dwt 3050, built 1998, flag Italy, manager AUGUSTA OFFSHORE SPA.
Nigerian pirates kidnapped officers of a chem tanker SP Brussels
Nigerian pirates attacked chemical tanker SP Brussels on Dec 17, some 40 miles off the Delta Niger coast. Pirates ransacked the vessel and kidnapped 5 crew, reportedly all 5 are Indians. Most probably, they’re all officers. Vessel was anchored at Lagos road on Dec 18 and remains anchored in the same position. It is understood, that the management already contacted the hijackers, or hijackers contacted the company. Chemical tanker SP Brussels IMO 9387164, dwt 7654, built 2007, flag Marshall Islands, manager MEDALLION REEDEREI GMBH, Germany.