Nigeria: Russian captain kidnapped

Pirates kidnapped two Russian sailors from the refrigerator ship Water Phoenix, the Embassy of Russian Federation in Nigeria has confirmed. (Image: illustration).

We confirm that two Russians were kidnapped from the ship Water Phoenix as a result of an attack by pirates 30 kilometers away from Lagos on September 8,” the embassy said on its official portal. “In cooperation with Nigerian law enforcement agencies we are exerting efforts to establish the hostages’ whereabouts and secure their release.”

According to the Nigerian portal Nigerian Tribune, the pirates seized the ship’s captain and another member of a crew, while the other 16 sailors managed to lock themselves in a compartment. The entire crew has been formed from 18 sailors – 7 Russians and 11 Filipinos.

The portal Dryad Global, devoted to maritime security matters, said that pirates had attacked the refrigerator ship Water Phoenix under the Liberian flag on the way from the Dutch port of Ijmuiden . At the moment of the attack the vessel was navigating southwest of Lagos. According to the information available it belongs to a company registered in Germany.

The Gulf of Guinea stretching from Senegal in the north to Angola in the south is notorious as the worst piracy ravaged area globally. In the first quarter of this year it accounted for 45% of world piracy incidents.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (“IMB”), the piracy can be defined as “the act of boarding any vessel with intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act”.

Reducing piracy is an ongoing battle, but in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic the situation has aggravated. Previously the Somali waters are perhaps the most well-known location of the modern-day pirates, largely due to headlines generated during the 2000s. Since then, the region has managed to significantly reduce numbers of piracy incidents, in part due to surveillance from the air and sea, and an increased international cooperation between countries’ navies. However, now the Gulf of Guinea has taken the lead. This fall in numbers became a global trend, with incidents of piracy falling worldwide in recent years.

2020 is, however, on course to buck this downward trend. The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 98 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first half of 2020, up from 78 in the first half of 2019.

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