Another tanker hijack, a new twist in GoG piracy?

Product tanker MARINE EXPRESS is missing since Feb 1 while being on Cotonou Anchorage, Benin, Gulf of Guinea – in the same area where tanker BARRETT was hijacked on Jan 9, under the same circumstances, including roughly the same size, number of crew and being partially laden.
There’s little doubt, that the tanker was hijacked.

Taking into account BARRETT hijack, one thing which comes to mind is whether it’s a new trend in GoG piracy activities. But to fully comprehend such a possibility, we must know some things, some facts which are mystery, and will remain mystery. It is understood and duly noted, that the owners and other parties involved, but especially owners, just can’t disclose the facts and can’t describe in detail what exactly happened to their ships, it’s the question of safety, first of all crew safety.
And so, we don’t know not the sums which were talked about and paid, nor the demands – we don’t know what is it pirates demand, how much and for what, and on what conditions.

How come the ship, MT BARRETT, was “missing” during nearly a week, in waters which are presumably, controlled by coastal Navies, especially Nigerian Navy? It’s not physically possible, tanker’s whereabouts should be known.
How did pirates hold off navies, military or police? Did they threaten to kill the hostages? Did they threaten to sink tanker or put her on fire?
Did they steal all cargo, or at least part of it?
What was the main target – cargo theft, or ransom demand?
Did they demand ransom like Somali pirates demanded it? Is it some kind of “short-term” hijack, but Somali-style?

Are there, in this world, any parties, any forces, sensible, responsible and influential enough, to radically change situation in Gulf of Guinea? Like you know, launching an international full-scale campaign demanding from GoG coastal States just step aside and leave ships’ security to ships’ owners, i.e. legalizing private armed guards? Or putting the whole of GoG under control of international Navies operation?

Or are we doomed to witness once again one more UN-led “fighting the roots” hoax campaign, which will bring no results except wasted resources, money, time and most probably, lives?
I personally, have no doubt, that if this piracy trend is to go on and expand, we will, once again, enjoy watching “fighting the roots” cheap (though very expensive financially) play, staged not in pirates whereabouts, but in top sites for holding international conferences, symposiums and other bla-bla, such as Geneva or Dubai, or Paris. Where indeed one’s to “fight piracy roots” if not in 5-star hotels of world’s most pleasurable cities?

Voytenko Mikhail
February 3, 2018

IMRRA, FleetMon’s official Vessel Risk Rating Partner, risk assessed this vessel as having a ‘green’ risk rating, with a specific risk rating of 31% (25-JAN-18), compared to the fleet average 34.8%. New risk assessment reports can be purchased via FleetMon.
Red: Poorest performing; Amber: Average value; Green: Good indicator.

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