Reporting indicates that the Portuguese flagged Containership TOMMI RITSCHER is currently involved in an ongoing incident at Zone 3 Cotonou Anchorage. It is understood that the vessel was approached by a speedboat and subsequently boarded by an unknown number of persons. A Naval Patrol vessel (ZOU) is understood to have spotted the speedboat alongside the vessel and approached. On approaching the speedboat is understood to have fled leaving the perpetrators on board the TOMMI RITSCHER.
Further reporting indicates that 11 crew members are locked in the citadel with a suspected 8 further crew members remaining outside the citadel.
Crew members are understood to be Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Filipino.
The remaining 8 crew are currently believed to be being held on board the vessel.
Reporting on the morning of 20th April indicates that assistance had been sought from Nigeria who are understood to have dispatched a Nigerian patrol boat NNS OSE with a detachment of Nigerian Naval Special Boat Service arriving at 2030hrs.
It is understood that the situation is ongoing and 8 crew remain held hostage on board the vessel.
This the second incident within the Cotonou anchorage within 2020 and the 5th incident in this location across a 12 month time frame. Whilst the full details of the incident remain unknown, incidents within the anchorage area have predominantly been limited to suspicious approaches and boarding’s for the purposes of petty theft. The waters off Cotonou and neighbouring Lomé have witnessed a number of more serious incidents involving the kidnap of crew at a distance of between 40 – 150nm.
Source: Dryad Global