Owner ‘kept in dark’ on Nigeria kidnappings

Jaya's MDPL Continental One off Nigeria20 June 2013 – The kidnapping of four crew members from an offshore vessel off Nigeria a week ago has once again highlighted the problem of a chronic lack of reporting on such incidents in the region.

Three Indians and one Pole were snatched from the anchor-handling tug supply vessel MDPL Continental One in the Bight of Benin on 13 June.

However, Upstream understands that it was not until 19 June that the vessel’s owner, Singapore-based Jaya Holdings, first learned of the incident.

The vessel was boarded by armed men and ransacked before the Indian master, chief engineer, bosun and Polish engineer were snatched.

The vessel has continued to sail and was undamaged while there are no reports of injuries to other crew.

However, the unwillingness of parties connected with the vessel to report the incident once again highlights the problem of a lack of reporting of attacks, hijackings or kidnappings of crew in the region.

The vessel is managed by United Arab Emirates-based company CS Offshore but it is operated by Singapore-based Marine Delivery Pte. CS Offshore’s Singapore office shares the same address and telephone number as that of Marine Delivery.

Marine Delivery refused to comment on the matter to Upstream.

It is understood that all parties are now in frequent communication on the incident.

None of the parties connected with the vessel have made an official report of the incident to the International Maritime (IMB) Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre, which collates information on attacks in an effort to warn shipping in the attack area to help prevent further incidents.

Crew kidnappings are frequent off Nigeria and there have been several incidents off Bayelsa and Rivers states already this year. However, crew members are often released within a few days or a week, reported for ransoms far lower than those seen in incidents involving Somali pirates.

It is possible that CS Offshore and Marine Delivery may have hoped that the hostage situation would not have dragged on as long as it has, and so elected to try to keep it under wraps.

Only this week a report by the Ocean Beyond Piracy group pointed to the continuing problem of companies failing to report incidents, particularly off West Africa, although this is, to a lesser extend, also the case off Somalia.
* Eoin O’Cinneide, Upstreamonline

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