Russian navy stops pirates hijacking Panamanian ship off coast of Nigeria

·2 min read
Russian destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov seen from the HMS Somerset in 2017 - ROYAL NAVY
Russian destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov seen from the HMS Somerset in 2017 - ROYAL NAVY

An attempt to hijack a Panama-registered container ship has reportedly been thwarted by the Russian navy.

The MSC Lucia was boarded by armed pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Nigeria.

It was en route from Lome, Togo's capital, to Douala in Cameroon, when pirates tried to seize the vessel.

However the hijack was prevented by the navy destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

It arrived on the scene with a naval supply tanker and a salvage tugboat. The tanker was escorted to safety by a Russian naval convoy.

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which owns the vessel, said that “the incident is understood to be ongoing” while advising the vessels transiting the area to be extremely cautious.

The Gulf of Guinea had been beset by piracy in recent years.

Nigerian special forces on an anti-piracy training mission earlier this year. The Gulf of Guinea has been targeted by hijackers - AFP
Nigerian special forces on an anti-piracy training mission earlier this year. The Gulf of Guinea has been targeted by hijackers - AFP

However, the number of incidents fell from 46 in the first nine months of last year to 28 in 2021.

Nigeria also reported a decline, falling over the same period to four in the first nine months of this year from 17 last year.

“We welcome the decline in piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and the efforts made by maritime authorities in the region,” said Michael Howlett, Director of the ICC International Maritime Bureau, when he released the latest piracy report.

“However, continued efforts are needed to ensure the safety of seafarers transporting essential goods throughout the region.

“Coastal states must redouble their coordination and security measures to ensure that incidents of piracy and armed robbery continue to decline.”

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