A group of armed men have kidnapped 20 crewmembers from an oil tanker as it was transiting the Gulf of Guinea in what has been described as the largest high seas abduction to occur in the region this year and the fourth since November.
The Marshall Islands-flagged Duke was boarded by the pirates at a point some 213 kilometres southeast of Togo’s capital Lomé at approximately 07:00 UTC on Sunday, December 15.
Twenty of the crew, all of whom were Indian nationals, were then taken off the vessel. Only one individual, a Nigerian deck cadet, was able to avoid being abducted.
A Togolese National Navy patrol vessel later found the tanker with the Nigerian cadet still on board.
Duke then remained under the Togolese authorities’ protection until a new crew, including a master, arrived to man the vessel and continue its operations.
The tanker had departed the Angolan capital of Luanda and was en route to Lomé when the boarding occurred.
UK-based Union Maritime, which owns Duke, said that it has been in continuous discussions with the appropriate authorities and with ship management company V Ships to resolve the situation and ensure the safe release of all 20 abducted crewmembers.
The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!