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  • Writer's pictureShaun Robertson

MT MONJASA REFORMER HIJACKING - WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

29th March 2023


*This article will be updated when new information on the incident is available*


Arguably the most severe piracy incident this year has occurred in the Gulf of Guinea over the past few days. This article will briefly overview the hijacking of the Danish-owned MT Monjasa Reformer, a chemical/oil product tanker.

On the 25th March 2023 at 22:39 UTC, the MT Monjada Reformer was hijacked 140NM West of Point Noirre, Congo. The vessel's AIS was turned off and remains missing at the time of writing after leaving the port of Douda in Cameroon.


The ship was last located at 5*29'35"S, 9*34'0"E. MDAT GOG has requested that ship masters remain vigilant and report any potential sightings of the ship or suspicious activity to authorities. The vessel is a black-hulled tanker with a black funnel and an orange logo. It is reported that five armed perpetrators boarded the vessel.



Sixteen seafarers were reported to be on board when the ship was sitting idle and was boarded. It is also reported that the crew made it to the citadel, but whether they remain there is currently unknown. Ambrey also reports that the vessel would have roughly had a 3.8m freeboard at the time of the incident and would be carrying marine gas oil, low sulphur fuel oil and high sulphur fuel oil.


"The vessel's AIS was turned off and remains missing at the time of writing"


It will remain to be seen whether the attack is purely for cargo or if the crew are under threat of kidnap and ransom. The French Navy is currently involved in the search for the vessel and if it is not found soon, more actors in the region will likely join in the search.


Angola and Ghana had the most incidents in 2022, but a kidnapping did take place off of Equatorial Guinea. This month's incident may represent a worrying trend in this region of the Gulf of Guinea, but time will tell if more incidents of this nature take place.


30th March


EOS Group have reported that at 19:57 UTC, one of their employees on board a vessel in West Africa received a distress signal from the Monjasa Reformer. The distress signal came from 92nm south of Bonny Island in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. At 21:30 UTC, MDAT GoG stated that the vessel was located and safe and that the incident was "complete". However, there is no word on the welfare of the crew or more details of the incident.


29th March 2023


The Monjasa Reformer was picked up 540 miles away from its previous known location off the coast of Sao Tome and Principe. The vessel was spotted with a drone from the warship Premier Maitre L'Her which spotted the pirate vessel on board in the first sighting. However, upon the second sighting of the vessel, the pirate's ship had disappeared.


UPDATE


It is confirmed that six crew have been kidnapped as pirates abandoned the vessel. It is unclear how the pirates got the crew out of the vessel but trickery and threats have been known to coerce crew members from this safe area. Furthermore, the Swedish Club for Maritime Insurance note that the minimum for crew supplies in a citadel is five days' rations which is roughly the time that the crew spent in the citadel, indicating that they may have run out of stores if the citadel had a minimum amount of supplies.


Three crew members, who were not kidnapped, were also reported to have minor injuries, which the French Navy treated. The Nigerian patrol vessel NNS Gongola also appeared on the scene to help escort the Monjasa Reformer to Lome, Togo.


*photo taken from French Navy drone which found the Monjasa Reformer*


1st April 2023


Danish ship owner confirms that six crew were kidnapped after being in contact with the crew.


3rd April 2023


The Chief Executive of Danish Shipping, Anne H. Steffensen, stated that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is far from resolved considering the latest figures showing a marked reduction in piracy in the region. She argued that the Danish authorities and the EU need to contribute more in the way of resources, intelligence and training in the region to help tackle the problem following the current incident.


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