Following the hijacking of a product tanker off Congo this week, there are renewed calls for attention and further action on the problem of piracy in West Africa. Danske Rederier, the Danish shipping and employers’ association, issued a statement saying that the current attack “unfortunately shows in no uncertain terms that the problems with piracy in West Africa are far from solved”.
The group says it is working with relevant authorities and Monjasa as the ship’s owner to resolve the situation and get the sailors home safely. The organization says although none of the seafarers aboard the product tanker are Danish, its credits go to seafarers and their families, while also urging continued focus on problems with piracy in the region.
This is because the authorities and the shipowner are still trying to contact the pirates who boarded Monjasa Reforms on March 25th. The French-UK operated Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) is continuing to request the assistance of vessels in the area to report possible sightings of the product tanker. They confirmed a report from yesterday that placed that Monjasa Reforms 470 nautical miles WNW of its original position which was 140 nautical miles off the coast of DR Congo after departing Port Pointe-Noire.
“The current situation clearly shows that most countries in the region do not have the necessary resources or capacity to respond to such an incident,” said Anne Steffensen, General Director and CEO of Danske Rederier. “Since the piracy problem in West Africa is not solved, we have to find other solutions.”
The organization calls for reflection on what contributions Denmark can send to the region to improve training or surveillance after the country withdrew its frigate from the Gulf of Guinea at the start of the war in Ukraine. Steffensen points out that naval vessels from several countries are in the region, including a number of European countries. In particular, she calls on EU countries to coordinate their presence much more to increase coverage across the region.
Denmark’s calls for more coordinated and consistent action in the Gulf of Guinea echo the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which in its annual report also highlighted the need for sustained efforts to maintain the progress made in 2022. In 19 reports in 2022, they reiterated, that the danger persists and that security efforts in the region must be maintained.
Montec Ship Management immediately alerted authorities upon learning of the ongoing incident. They said they are working with all relevant maritime authorities in the area, including several local and international navies.
MDAT-GoG also reiterated its warnings to seafarers, advising them to stay away from the areas where the product tanker has been sighted, while soliciting reports of sightings of the black-hulled vessel or suspicious activity in the Gulf of Guinea.
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