Pirates have released two offshore sailors captured in October from an Edison Chouest-owned supply vessel in Nigeria.
“We welcome the release of the two U.S. citizens who were kidnapped from the M/V C-Retriever. For privacy reasons, we will not provide any additional information,” Reuters quoted a State Department official as saying.
The incident occurred Wednesday morning (October 23), when the heavily armed attackers boarded the C-Retriever vessel and kidnapped the captain and the engineer, off the coast of Nigeria. The captured, now freed, men are both U.S. nationals. The two men were released over the weekend and have, reportedly, arrived in the U.S.
It is still unknown under what circumstances the hostages were released, but according to Fox News, Edison Chouest paid a ransom.
The attack happened only a week after the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) revealed that piracy on the world’s seas is at its lowest third-quarter level since 2006. However, in its report, the IMB warned of the threat of continuing violent attacks off the East and West coasts of Africa.
With fewer attacks off Somalia, attention has moved to the Gulf of Guinea, a hotspot for violent piracy and ship hijacking for many years. The region recorded more than 40 piracy attacks in the first three quarters of 2013, with 132 crew taken hostage and seven vessels hijacked – six tankers and an offshore supply vessel. The Gulf of Guinea accounted for all crew kidnappings worldwide, 32 of them off Nigeria, and two off Togo.
IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan urged caution: “Although the number of attacks is down overall, the threat of attacks remains, particularly in the waters off Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea. It is vital that ship masters continue to be vigilant as they transit these waters.”
Nigeria, the main source of piracy in the region, accounted for 29 piracy incidents, including two hijackings, 11 ships boarded, 13 vessels fired upon and three attempted attacks. Pirates, often heavily armed and violent, are targeting vessels and their crews along the coast, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters. In many cases, they ransack the vessels and steal the cargo, usually gas and oil.
Offshore Energy Today Staff, November 13, 2013