Four seafarers have been kidnapped from a Liberian-flagged container vessel whilst at anchor in the Port of Douala off the coast of Cameroon.

The incident involving Contship Oak occurred on March 30, 2019, is the latest abduction in the Gulf of Guinea, which has become a global hotspot for modern piracy and attacks against ships.

A recent report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) highlighted how increasingly dangerous the waters between Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo have become with a surge of pirate activity that has doubled since last year.

ITF Seafarers’ Section chair, Dave Heindel said today: “Our thoughts are with the four seafarers and their families. This is an incredibly stressful time for everyone involved and requires an urgent response.”

“We are waiting for more details to emerge, but what we can say is that it is not acceptable for seafarers’ to put their lives at risk in the notorious waters in the Gulf of Guinea. The industry has repeatedly called for the coastal states to effectively exercise their obligations of securing the safe transit and mooring of ships.

“The refusal to allow ship owners additional security and the deployment of armed guards on vessels is not only risking seafarers’ lives but is also counterproductive to the economies of nations in the gulf through their failure to secure their coastlines against piracy attacks.

“The burden is currently falling on the shoulder of seafarers and shipowners which must stop. We invite the governments of the Gulf of Guinea to engage with the ITF and the maritime industry to find effective solutions, so these incidents cease to continue,” concluded Heindel.