CAMEROON – The fashion for piracy has seemingly moved directly across the continent with several attacks taking place on Sunday 12th September in the harbour at Douala. An armed gang roamed the moorings and attacked two vessels terrorising the crews and robbing them of valuables.
After the initial assaults the gang attacked a trailing suction hopper dredger, the Amerigo Vespucci, and despite some resistance, seized two crew members, one Filipino, the other Croatian. The Belgian owners of the Luxembourg flagged vessel, the Jan De Nul Group, immediately formed a crisis team which met at midnight at company headquarters to discuss tactics and ensure all the affected families were kept informed. It is likely the kidnappers will be looking to gain a ransom from the company.
The Jan De Nul Group is a marine dredging contractor with a specialist fleet of around 26 vessels controlled from a network of offices throughout Europe, Africa, India, the Middle East and Asia. We have become inured to similar attacks in Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia but such incidents in West Africa are considered much rarer.
In fact the waters between Liberia and Gabon, taking in national waters of nine African nations in only 2000 kilometres across the Gulf of Guinea,, have seen around 9% of all reported pirate attacks in the past year. Other areas of the globe have also recently seen a rise in similar attacks on vessels ranging from private yachts up to giant container ships.
Photo: The dredger Amerigo Vespucci.