March 30 ------ There are renewed calls for attention and further action on the piracy problem in West Africa in the wake of this week’s ongoing hijacking of a product tanker off Congo. Danske Rederier, the Danish shipping trade and employer organization, issued a statement saying that the current attack “unfortunately shows with all clarity that the problems with piracy in West Africa are far from solved.” The group says it is working with the relevant authorities and Monjasa as the vessel’s owner to resolve the situation and get the seafarers home safely. The organization says while none of the seafarers aboard the product tanker are Danish, its throughs go out to seafarers and their families, while also calling for continued focus on problems with piracy in the region.
This comes as the authorities and the shipowner are still attempting to make contact with the pirates that boarded the Monjasa Reformer on March 25. The French and British operated Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) continues to ask for the assistance of vessels in the area to report possible sightings of the product tanker. They confirmed a report from yesterday that placed the Monjasa Reformer 470 nautical miles to the west-northwest of its original position which was 140 nautical miles off the coast of DR Congo after having departed from Port Pointe-Noire. “The current situation clearly shows that most countries in the region do not have the necessary resources or capacities to respond to such an incident,” said Anne Steffensen, Director General and CEO of Danske Rederier. “Since the piracy problem in West Africa has not been solved, we have to find other solutions.”
The organization is calling for considering what contributions Denmark can send to the region to increase training or surveillance after the country withdrew its frigate from the Gulf of Guinea at the start of the war in Ukraine. Steffensen highlights that there are naval vessels from several countries in the area, including a number of European countries. She is calling for the EU countries in particular to coordinate their presence to a much greater extent to increase coverage across the region. Denmark’s calls for more coordinated and consistent actions in the Gulf of Guinea mirror the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which in its annual report also highlighted the need for sustained efforts to maintain the progress seen in 2022. Saying that incidents had dropped to just 19 reports in 2022, they reiterated that the danger remained and that there was a need to maintain security efforts in the region.
Montec Ship Management immediately alerted the authorities when it learned of the ongoing incident. They said they are working with all relevant maritime authorities in the region, including several local and international navies. MDAT-GoG also reiterated its warnings to mariners advising them to remain clear of the areas where the product tanker has been spotted while also asking for reports of sightings of the black hulled vessel or any suspicious activity in the Gulf of Guinea.