Eight crew seized from Greek tanker in Cameroon

The Happy Lady tanker in 2018. Credit: John van de Langenberg/MarineTraffic

West African pirates have abducted eight crew members of a chemical/products tanker, in what appears to be increasingly frequent attacks in the region.

Around 2300 h UK time on 30 December 2019, Happy Lady, a 2013-built 51,390 dwt chemical/products tanker owned by Greek shipping company Eastern Mediterranean Maritime, was attacked. Since November, the vessel had been anchored at Limboh Terminal in Cameroon.

A representative of Eastern Mediterranean told SAS that eight of the tanker’s 28-man crew, comprising five Greeks, two Filipinos and one Ukrainian, were captured by the perpetrators.

He added that the other 20 crew members, comprising Greeks and Filipinos, are safe, although one of them was hurt in the attack.

He said: “The injured crew member is Greek, and he was transferred to a hospital ashore. He had a leg injury, but his condition isn’t life-threatening.

“We have yet to receive any messages from the kidnappers.”

Maritime security consultancy Dryad Global stated that this incident is the latest kidnapping within the Gulf of Guinea since four Chinese fishing crew were abducted on 22 December.

Dryad said: “This latest incident is yet another incident in the recent spike in incidents throughout December, bringing the total number of kidnapped crew within the Gulf of Guinea in December alone to 57.”

The rapid increase in incidents is believed to be perpetuated in part by a confluence of factors, including favourable conditions and reinforced successes. Lengthy turnaround times at terminal locations present considerable security challenges for vessels seeking to reduce exposure to the risk of incident.

In addition to this, “a lack of coherent and coordinated security response means that pirates are able to operate between national maritime boundaries without restriction,” concluded Dryad.