Pirates free Glarus crew

Swiss-owned bulk carrier Glarus. Credit: Massoel Shipping
Swiss-owned bulk carrier Glarus. Credit: Massoel Shipping

Twelve crew members of Swiss-owned bulk carrier Glarus have been freed more than a month after being captured by pirates.

Massoel Shipping, the ship’s owner, said on 28 October that the seafarers have been medically examined and are now being reunited with their families.

The 12 crew members, comprising seven Filipinos, and one national each from Slovenia, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, and Bosnia, were abducted during a pirate attack on the 46,514 dwt Glarus as it sailed from Lagos to Port Harcourt in Nigeria on 22 September.

It is understood the pirates boarded Glarus by means of long ladders and cut the razor wire on deck to gain access to the vessel and eventually the bridge. Having destroyed much of the vessel’s communications equipment, the criminal gang departed taking 12 of the 19 crew members as hostages. Glarus then continued its voyage to Port Harcourt.

“All the appropriate authorities were immediately informed and Massoel worked with experienced professionals to secure the release of their seafarers. Massoel wishes to thank all those who played an integral part in the safe release of those taken hostage,” Massoel Shipping said in a statement.

The company declined to provide details of the operations leading to the release of the hostages, out of concern that this could encourage similar attacks.

“Massoel wishes to acknowledge the professionalism and stoicism of the crew of Glarus during their ordeal and also that of their families, all who have been through a traumatic and challenging time. Massoel salutes their bravery and will be providing the support required to those involved in the coming months.”

The International Maritime Bureau has flagged the Gulf of Guinea as an area of concern, as pirates have hijacked vessels in that location for their cargoes or for ransom.

In the first six months of 2018, the number of reported pirate attacks and attempted attacks in West Africa have more than doubled, to 46 incidents, from 20 cases in the first half of 2017.

Worldwide, the number of reported pirate attacks and attempted attacks rose from 87 cases in the first six months of 2017 to 107 incidents in the first half of 2018.

On 14 August, Lotus Shipping’s chemical tanker Pantelena was hijacked and held by pirates for nine days while en route to Gabon. The vessel and its crew were freed without additional details disclosed.