Offshore InjuryBlog

Nigerian Pirate Attack Results in 4 Kidnappings

For sailors who were coasting off the oil-laden southern delta of Nigeria, Christmas day brought nothing to celebrate. As reported by the Washington Post, four of the sailors aboard the tug boat Asso Ventuno, were kidnapped on Sunday night, right on the eve of Christmas. The offshore tugboat was reportedly coasting near Nigeria's Bayelsa state when it was attacked by pirates armed with guns.

Three of the four sailors that were captured on Sunday night are of Italian descent, according to reports from Italy's Sailors' Labour Union. The nationality of the fourth hostage has yet to be revealed, but reports from OCEANUSLIve suggest that the fourth crew member may be of Ukrainian descent. The Foreign Ministry, however, has yet to confirm the status of the fourth hostage. Regardless, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi is personally following the case himself.

Together, the Foreign Ministry and the Crisis Unit are working alongside Nigerian authorities in their attempts to ensure that the sailors are safely rescued and returned to their families. Already, five vessels have been deployed by the Nigerian navy and are now patrolling the Brass Area. The Navy is currently collaborating with other agencies to intensify the methods of their search and rescue mission. In addition, search and rescue parties are eager to apprehend the pirates during their safety mission as well.

Since Sunday night, the International Maritime Bureau has released official reports about the pirate attack that ravaged the small Asso Ventuno tugboat. Records show that the attack took place approximately 40 nautical miles off the coast of the State of Bayelsa. Pirates kidnapped only four of the ship's crew members, leaving the others on board to remain in the absence of their shipmates. The tugboat, which was operated by Naples-based Augusta Offshore SpA, immediately raised alarm of the attack and then returned to the nearest port.

Still unresolved, the tragedy of last Sunday's pirate attack will not be soon forgotten, especially given the trauma and devastation that has been felt by surviving crew members, as well as the friends and families of the four hostages who remain in captivity. Unfortunately, the events of this past weekend are not the first of their kind, nor are they likely to be the last. In fact, a whole slew of pirate kidnappings have occurred on Nigerian waters in the past month alone, as well as along the restive Niger Delta.

Just last week, reports surfaced of an attack in which pirates kidnapped five crew members from an oil tanker stationed off the Nigerian coast, first looting and ravaging the vessel and then taking with them some of the ship's members. Another attack in early December involved the kidnapping of four South Koreans and another two Nigerians. Although the victims of this attack have since been released, the criminal activity that occurred in Bayelsa is evidence to the fact that several gangs and bands of pirates are freely reigning over the Niger Delta, taking captives for ransom and wreaking havoc as they go.

The notion that pirate attacks and kidnappings are nothing more than fodder for old fairy tales and movies is simply not true. Activities in the Nigerian waters alone during this past month are evidence against this fact. Modern day pirate attacks are still at-large, and some areas remain at higher risk than others. Injuries that are sustained during these pirate attacks can – and should – be brought to the legal attention of a maritime attorney at Arnold & Itkin. The Jones Act and general maritime law can be used as powerful tools in securing compensation for seamen who were victimized in an offshore pirate attack anywhere in the world. Contact us today for more information.

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