February 21 ------ Ten crew members have been kidnapped from a crude oil tanker off Cotonou, Benin, Dryad Global said. The incident occurred some 76 nautical miles southwest of Cotonou on February 20, 2020. At the time of the attack, the ship — identified as the 78,928 cbm Alpine Penelope — was en route to Lagos, Nigeria, from Ijmuiden, the Netherlands. It was crewed by 24 people consisting of Georgian, Filipino and Ukrainian nationals. The Liberia-flagged LR1 tanker is operated by Greek shipping company Oceangold Tankers, data provided by VesselsValue shows.
The officer on watch reportedly identified two armed men on board. However, no further details regarding the nature of weapons or actions have since been received. It is understood that an alert was sent by the tanker, after which communications were lost, according to Dryad. “This is the 7th incident to occur in the waters off Cotonou since Jan 2019. Of those, 5 have resulted in illegal boarding’s offshore, two of which resulted in kidnappings of crew,” Dryad informed.
Today’s attack occurred only 11 nautical miles west from an illegal boarding event on January 19, 2020. In this incident, the container ship Atlantic Discoverer was illegally boarded by two unknown persons with five persons identified as being alongside in a skiff. Within 2019, the waters off Lomé and Cotonou witnessed an increase in both the volume and severity of maritime crime incidents.