Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) yesterday confirmed that its 2002-built, Singapore flagged AHTS Pacific Warden, was attacked offshore Equatorial Guinea on November 20, 2019 at approximately 05:00 local time.
The vessel was supporting offshore field operations in Equatorial Guinea.
There were 15 crew members on board. Eight are safely ashore and unharmed. Seven crew members were taken by the attackers and are missing. The local authorities and the Navy of Equatorial Guinea responded quickly to the incident.
“The safety of the people on board our vessel is always our top priority,” said the company. “SPO will do everything possible to secure the safe and timely return of the missing crew members, in coordination with their families and relevant authorities.”
SPO said it had no further details at present and asked that the media respect the privacy of the affected crew members’ families.
THIRD INCIDENT IN AREA THIS YEAR
Maritime security consultancy Dryad Global notes that this is the third kidnapping incident within 30 nm of the western side of Bioko Island within 2019 with two additional incidents involving vessels being fired upon at a distance of 50 nm.
“It is assessed that the piracy conducted in this area originates from within Nigerian waters,” says Dryad. “The PAG (pirate action group) involved is believed to be a well-established grouping with significant resources and the capacity to conduct deep offshore operations via a mothership vessel. It is assessed that the PAG involved is seeking to conduct operations beyond the Nigerian EEZ seeking to exploit the relative absence of established security presence in the 60 nm channel between the Nigerian EEZ and Bioko. All incidents within 2019 in this area have involved offshore support vessels with particularly vulnerable vessel parameters.”