Tanker feared hijacked
The hijacking of the MT Barrett, a Marshall Islands-flagged oil carrier, off Cotonou, Benin on January 10th came just days after warnings from the IMB that the region was still dangerous for shipping. Despite an absence of hijack-for-cargo thefts in 2017, it appeared that pirate gangs had returned to their original business model.
This would appear to be the case, with the news that another vessel has gone missing from the anchorage area. The ship, another oil tanker, was said to be carrying a cargo of gasoil at the time contact was lost with it. Nothing has been heard from the ship since February 1st and attempts to contact her have failed. It is strongly suspected that she is under the control of pirates.
Although there were no reports yesterday from the authorities, MDAT-GoG has today issued an alert confirming the incident and warning vessels in the region to be on their guard. The MT Barrett was under pirate control for six days and was not located by regional military forces. It was held and some of the cargo stolen before it and the crew were released amid reports of a ransom payment, although this has not been confirmed.
It is hoped that the new incident has a speedy resolution for the sake of the crew, while the incident raises new concerns over the safety of vessels off Benin.