All 15 crew members of Liberian-flagged ship, Mozart, which remains anchored at Port-Gentil, Gabon, are together, in good health and uninjured, according to the ship’s Turkish technical operating company on Thursday.
“Boden Shipping communicated with the crew members of the container ship Mozart, which was hijacked off Sao Tome on Jan. 23, 2021,” said a statement by the firm.
“Boden Shipping and Boden Shipping’s partners in Borealis Shipping continue to make every effort to ensure the fastest release of their teammates, who are their first and only priorities, and continue to be in constant communication with the families of the abducted sailors,” it said, adding that no additional comments would be made on the subject to protect the safety and health of the crew and their families.
According to Reuters; Pirates off Nigeria’s coast kidnapped 15 sailors from a Turkish-crewed container ship in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday in a brazen and violent attack that was farther from shore than usual.
One sailor was killed in the raid, an Azerbaijani citizen, while those kidnapped are from Turkey, according to the respective governments and a crew list seen by Reuters.
Accounts from crew, family members and security sources described a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack on Saturday in which armed pirates boarded the ship and breached its protective citadel, possibly with explosives.
Three sailors remain on the Mozart, which by Sunday evening was receiving assistance in Gabonese waters off central Africa.
“The ship is in our waters and our sailors are assisting a few nautical miles from Port Gentil,” said Gabon’s presidency spokesman Jessye Ella Ekogha, without providing further detail.
The Liberian-flagged vessel was headed to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked 160 kilometres (100 miles) off Sao Tome island on Saturday, maritime reports showed.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said on Sunday he was orchestrating officials in the “rescue of kidnapped ship personnel”.
Erdogan spoke twice by phone with the ship’s fourth captain, Furkan Yaren, who remained aboard after the attack, his office said.
State-run Anadolu agency cited Yaren as saying he had been “cruising blindly” toward Gabon with damage to the ship’s controls and only the radar working. The pirates beat crew members, and left him with an injured leg while another still aboard the ship had shrapnel wounds, he said.
Turkish media cited Istanbul-based Boden company, which provides technical management services for the vessel, as saying the operators of the vessel were abducted at gunpoint. Boden was not immediately available.
Ambrey, a security company, said four armed men boarded the Mozart and entered the citadel – where crew are advised to hide in any attack – through a hatch or the door.
Edward Yeibo, a Nigerian Navy commander, said he was not aware of the attack and seeking details. The Lagos naval command office and a spokesman for Nigeria’s maritime regulator were not immediately available.