The three Indians and one Pole are understood to be safe and well and have arrived back in Lagos following their abduction from the anchor-handling tug supply vessel MDPL Continental One on 13 June.
The master, chief engineer, engineer and bosun were kidnapped from the Jaya Holdings-owned vessel by armed men who also ransacked the vessel. No other injuries or vessel damage were reported.
Upstream reported last week, however, it was not until six days after the kidnappings that Jaya was informed.
The vessel is managed by United Arab Emirates-based 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 last week to comment on the matter to Upstream and again refused to comment on reports of the men’s release.
A spokesperson at CS Offshore’s Dubai office confirmed to Upstream that the men had been released on Saturday. However, the spokesperson was not immediately willing to answer further questions on the matter.
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, reportedly 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 did, and so elected to try to keep it under wraps.
Only last week a report by the Oceans Beyond Piracy group pointed to the continuing problem of companies failing to report incidents, particularly off West Africa, although this is, to a lesser extent, also the case off Somalia.
The BBC reported on Monday that West African leaders have called for the deployment in the region of an international naval force akin to that seen off Somalia to combat piracy.
Speaking at a meeting of West and Central African leaders in Cameroon, Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said: “I urge the international community to show the same firmness in the Gulf of Guinea as displayed in the Gulf of Aden, where the presence of international naval forces has helped to drastically reduce acts of piracy.”
*Eoin O’Cinneide, Upstreamonline