A Norwegian vessel owned by shipping firm JJ Ugland has been boarded by pirates while at anchor off the coast of West Africa.
The ship’s owners released a statement about the incident off Benin, on Saturday (local time), saying nine crew members have been kidnapped.
The remaining crew of the MV Bonita notified local authorities, and the vessel later docked at the port city of Cotonou.
The dry bulker was carrying a cargo of gypsum, a mineral commonly used as fertiliser, which was destined for Benin.
While piracy has decreased worldwide, West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea is a high-risk area for abductions and armed robbery, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a unit of the International Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement last month. The IMB hosts a live piracy and armed robbery map, which highlights known trouble spots.
Shippers have reported several abductions in the region in recent months, including eight crew members taken from a German-owned vessel off Cameroon in August, and 10 Turkish sailors off the coast of Nigeria in July.
“The Ugland Emergency Response Team are handling this situation as per contingency plans, and they are in contact with relevant authorities. … The families of the crew members have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland,” the company said.