Pirates have kidnapped 19 crew members from a crude oil tanker off Nigeria in an area where acts of piracy are on the rise, an official with the ship’s operator said on Thursday.
The loaded vessel, the Nave Constellation, was attacked 77 nautical miles off Bonny Island on Tuesday and 18 Indians and one Turk from the crew were seized, the official said.
Seven other crew members remain on board the vessel.
Neither the vessel nor the cargo were damaged, the official said.
The shipping industry has warned in recent months of the increasing dangers faced by seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly around Nigeria, including kidnappings by pirates.
The head of Nigeria’s Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dakuku Peterside, said authorities were working to ensure the crew are secured and that those abducted are released.
He said the vessel owners had operated for 10 days in Nigerian waters without contacting harbor masters or Nigerian authorities.
The Hong Kong-flagged supertanker, capable of carrying up to 2 million barrels of oil, is operated by Greek shipping company Navios Tankers Management.
“We are doing everything necessary to make sure that the 19 crew members will return safe,” the official at Navios said, adding that their families have been informed.