Eight seafarers believed kidnapped from containership off Benin

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Eight seafarers are believed to have been kidnapped from the containership Tommi Ritscher which was boarded by pirates on 19 April off the Port of Cotonou, Benin.

The Portuguese-flagged boxship was boarded by an unknown number of pirates on 19 April and 11 crew of the crew made it into the citadel while eight more were believed to have been held by the perpetrators.

According to Dryad Global on 20 April the vessel was boarded by Nigerian Special Forces.

“This is reported to have been an unopposed boarding resulting in the rescue of 11 personnel from the citadel. Notably, there has been no mention of the perpetrators or the 8 crew not within the citadel. It is believed that the Bulgarian Master is among those now assumed to be kidnapped,” Dryad said in an incident alert.

While it was initially reported the pirates had been left stranded on the vessel this version of events is now being called into question.

“It would be considered a serious operational failing if the perpetrators were able to escape given the significant military presence in the vicinity of the vessel and thus it is assessed as a realistic possibility that communications from within the citadel were incorrect and that the perpetrators were able to escape at an early stage of the attack with eight crew members,” Dryad said.

It is assessed as highly likely that the pirates originate from the Nigerian Delta. Benin has stopped placing armed guards on vessels at anchor due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2014-built containership is managed Transeste Schiffahrt in Germany, and owned Woollerton Shipping, according to the Equasis database.

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