Pictured: the MarMalaita – the ship that was attacked by West African pirates; Photo: Sinisa Aljinovic and MC Schiffahrt
Eight crewmen have been kidnapped and are now being held captive by West African pirates after their ship was attacked in the dead of night.
German box-ship and general-cargo ship operator MC-Schiffahrt has reported that its vessel MarMalaita, a small geared tween-decker with box capacity, was attacked at some point just before midnight on August 14. The attack took place while the ship was at anchorage off the city of Douala, in the West African country of Cameroon.
“A group of pirates boarded the vessel and abducted eight of our 12 crew members from the vessel. We have assembled our emergency response team and are doing [our] utmost to deal with the case, in cooperation with all relevant authorities and crew managers. Our thoughts reach out to the concerned families and we will take all efforts to support and assist them until the seafarers safely return back home. All respective authorities have been informed accordingly and we will fully cooperate with them until the case is resolved,” the company said in a statement.
Built in 2002 at the Yichang Shipyard, China, the MarMalaita flies the flag of Antigua and Barbuda. It has a capacity of 10,604 deadweight. Deadweight measures, in metric tonnes, the carrying capacity of a ship. A metric tonne is equivalent to 2,204.6 U.S. pounds. The ship has 7,406 gross tons, which measures the volume of all the internal enclosed space of the ship. Gross tonnage is not a measure of weight.
MarMalaita has a nominal ocean shipping container capacity of 679 twenty foot equivalent units. It has two cranes with a lifting capacity of up to 60 metric tonnes, combinable to 120 metric tonnes. It has two holds, two hatches and a tweendeck. The ship has a length overall of 142.68 meters (468.1 feet), a breadth of 18.25 meters (60 feet) and a draught of six meters (19.7 feet). The ship has a service speed of 13 knots (approximately 15 miles per hour).
The Gulf of Guinea, the sea space between the West African and Central African regions, has been described by the International Maritime Bureau as the “world’s most dangerous for piracy.” Of the 75 seafarers around the world who were kidnapped and taken hostage for ransom in the first six months of 2019, 62 were kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea. That’s 82.6 percent of all seafarer kidnappings.
Sadly, piracy is not confined to the Gulf of Guinea. The seas around southeast Asia are also notorious for robbery at sea and piracy.
Between August 6 to August 12, there were three incidents of armed robbery in southeast Asia, according to the regional piracy reporting center, ReCAAP.
During that time a chemical tanker was underway while waiting for the pilot off the coast at Jakarta, Indonesia. Six men armed with knives illegally boarded the tanker and assaulted the Chief Engineer. They fled, empty-handed, after the alarm was raised. Meanwhile, in the Singapore Strait, two tugboats towing barges were attacked while underway off the coast of the Malaysian state of Johor. Robbers boarded the tugs from small boats and they fled after stealing scrap metal from the barges.