Gulf of Guinea pirates kidnap nine crew from Norwegian bulker

Credit: Dietmar Hasenpusch

Pirates have kidnapped nine crew members from dry bulk carrier Bonita, anchored 14 km off the coast of the West African nation of Benin.

The vessel, owned and operated by Norwegian firm JJ Ugland and loaded with a cargo of gypsum bound for the small Gulf of Guinea nation, was boarded on Saturday, 2 November. While nine crew have been confirmed to have been kidnapped, including the captain, their nationalities have not been revealed.

Various crew have escaped capture – although the number has been withheld for safety reasons – and are being interviewed by authorities as part of an investigation.

“The Ugland Emergency Response Team are handling this situation as per contingency plans, and they are in contact with relevant authorities,” said the company in a statement. “The families of the crew members have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland.”

The Gulf of Guinea has long replaced the Gulf of Aden as the world hostage-taking hotspot, with 86% of all seafarers taken hostage and nearly 82% of crew kidnappings globally, according to information from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).