Bulker unscathed as Nigerian navy fights off pirates

IHS Markit's AISLive ship tracker shows the Drogba at anchorage in Lagos, Nigeria. Credit: IHS Markit AISLive

A Singapore-flagged Ultramax bulk carrier escaped being seized by West African pirates after the Nigerian navy fought off the perpetrators.

Pirates boarded Drogba at about 0030 h UK time on 30 December 2019 as it transited between Lagos and Port Harcourt and fled the vessel after a brief firefight with Nigerian naval officers.

Drogba is owned by Stamford Panasia Shipping Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-incorporated joint venture between Singapore-based investment group Stamford Shipping LLP and commodity trading group Olam International.

IHS Markit’s AISLive data shows that Drogba had loaded grains in the Russian port of Zhelezny Rog in the Black Sea, and departed on 24 November, bound for Port Harcourt.

Olam has been operating Drogba under a long-term arrangement since the vessel was acquired from Greathorse Group in August 2017, while the vessel’s technical management is handled by Thome Ship Management.

SAS’ attempts to contact Thome for comment were unsuccessful.

The attack on Drogba happened hours after Vinalines Mighty, a 22,600-dwt bulk carrier, was attacked as it sailed between Douala, Cameroon, and Greenville, Liberia.

Three pirates boarded the ship, owned by Vietnam’s national carrier Vinalines, but the crew was not hurt. It is not known if any valuables were taken from the ship.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is a growing menace, with the International Maritime Bureau reporting that the area accounts for 82% of crew abductions in the world.