Pirates have hijacked a Maltese flag VLCC off the Nigerian coast, taking three hostages and killing the vessel's Greek deputy Master, according to the Greek coastguard.
Aeolos Shipmanagement’s ‘Kalamos’ was reportedly anchored waiting to load at Qua Iboe oil terminal operated by ExxonMobil, when it was boarded on Tuesday. She had arrived from China in ballast.
Two of the three hostages are Greek. ‘Kalamos’ had a crew of 23 on board at the time of the hijacking.
"The foreign and shipping ministries have taken the necessary actions for the rescue of the hostages," Greece's Deputy Shipping Minister, Thodoris Dritsas said in a statement.
Greece's shipping ministry also said that the rest of the ship's crew was safe.
According to maritime security consultancy NYA, the attack on the VLCC raises new concerns about the capability of local security agencies and could lead to further calls for changes to maritime security legislation in the region.
This latest incident continues a disturbing new trend in the modus operandi of pirate cells operating in Nigeria. Since the beginning of 2015, there has been a high level of violence against targeted vessels, with three armed forces personnel and one police officer killed in separate incidents, the consultancy said.
The attack also raises concerns over the effectiveness of the Nigerian Navy (NN) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Currently, the NN operates as the near sole authority in respect to maritime protection.
In the light of this latest incident companies are likely to continue lobbying for changes to legislation pertaining to maritime security; specifically pushing for authorisation of armed private maritime security companies (PMSCs), NYA said.