News BlogWest Africa - Sahelmaritime piracy

A Turkish container ship hacked in the Gulf of Guinea (v3)

(B2) The Mozart, a Turkish ship, was boarded on Saturday (23.01) morning by pirates off the coast of Sao Tome and Principe. Particularly violent attack. The Ankara authorities are in turmoil

The Mozart and part of its crew (credit: Boden)

The Liberian-flagged container ship had left Lagos and was 100 miles northwest of Sao Tome e Principe on the open sea, heading for Cape Town, South Africa. According to maritime sources consulted by B2, it was then located at 1°04'13” North and 5°14'17” East. Formerly called Pointe des Salines when it belonged to CMA CGM, it is managed by the Turkish company Boden Denizcilik AŞ, a subsidiary of Borealis Maritime, a company established in Hamburg, London and Istanbul.

The last two attacks recorded took place near Sao Tome and Principe

One dead, 15 hostages

After stopping the ship, the pirates — apparently four in number — stormed the ship. The sailors did not all have time to take refuge in the citadel, or at least it was forced. The details are not really known. But the pirates did not hesitate. They left, taking 15 members of the crew hostage, violently, beating them. One of the sailors, an Azerbaijani national, the chief engineer on board, was killed in the attack. Before leaving, they destroyed a good part of the on-board instruments (except the automatic navigation system). The Brest maritime surveillance center for the Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) has been notified. But no military means were available nearby to help the sailors, according to our information.

Three survivors to lead the ship to safety

Only three sailors were able to survive. The ship's fourth captain, Furkan Yaren, was injured in the leg. Another was injured in the stomach. The three of them managed to drive the container ship as close as possible to Port-Gentil in Gabon. Furkan Yaren also tells it on a friend's Twitter media. “ I don't know where I'm going. The hackers dismantled all the cables, nothing works. We survived, they kidnapped our friends by beating them. Only the navigation system works. They gave me an itinerary, I move accordingly. NWe're trying to get the ship to a safe place »

Arrival in Port Gentil

The ship arrived at 8 a.m. (GMT) on Sunday, Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adel Karah Ismailoglu confirmed. Turkey " mobilized all its embassies in the west of the African continent to rescue the crew of the attacked ship » indicates Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşolu, according to the agency Anadolu. The Turkish ambassador to Libreville, Nilüfer Erdem, spared no effort, welcoming the sailors upon their arrival at the port.

The Turkish ambassador on the MV Mozart upon her arrival with one of the rescued sailors (the 4th captain) (credit: amb. of Turkey Libreville)

Another attack in mid-January

This is not really a surprise (*) nor a first. On the night of January 13 to 14, according to maritime sources, pirates on board a small boat approached a container ship, with gunfire in support. The Maersk Cardiff, flying the flag of Singapore but operated by the Danish Maersk, was en route from Tema in Ghana to Cameroon. It was then approximately 120 miles south-south west of Brass (Nigeria) at 2°23'58” North and 5°31” East. The alarm was raised and the entire crew was assembled in the citadel. The pirates abandoned the attack. The ship and crew declared themselves safe and were able to continue their journey.

A European pilot project

The Gulf of Guinea should also become the first maritime zone of European interest. Foreign Ministers must decide this Monday (25.01) (read Gulf of Guinea maritime zone of European interest. First Coordinated Maritime Presence Pilot Project).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

NB: on general aspects of risks in the Gulf of Guinea are the subject of a separate article, read: Pirates love the Gulf of Guinea. The most dangerous area

(*) This weekend's attack is part of this ongoing movement and is therefore not totally atypical, contrary to what some analyst comments claim.

(updated) Statistical aspects on the Gulf of Guinea have been put in a separate paper. Details on the availability of relief and reception in Libreville.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).