16 Mariners Kidnapped in Five Days off West Africa

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*GAC testing delivery of supplies to vessels via drones

WMN…Over the past five days, a total of 16 seafarers were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of West Africa, marking a continuation of rampant pirate activity in the region.
Ten mariners were kidnapped in an attack reported by Dryad on April 30, when pirates boarded Panama-flagged oil products tanker MT Vemahope some 178 nautical miles south-southeast of Lagos.
According to Dryad, the ship was attacked by a single speedboat with an unknown number of armed individuals on board. Four crew members remained onboard.
“If confirmed, this incident would be the 7th deep offshore incident within the Nigerian EEZ within 2020. Total incidents in West Africa have thus far tracked 2019 trends almost exactly with a partial fall of only 1 incident seen in 2020 compared incidents over the same time-frame in 2019,” Dryad said.
On May 3, pirates boarded two fishing trawlers identified as Amerger II & Amerger VII off Libreville, Gabon. One incident occurred at 20nm from shore and the second 36nm from shore.
“Reports suggest that the incident involved a single skiff with three engines and 13 persons on board,” Dryad said, adding that the perpetrators are likely to be from Nigeria.
“It is understood that following the boarding 6 personnel have been kidnapped, 3 from each vessel. The nationalities of those kidnapped are understood to be 3 Indonesian, 2 Senegalese, 1 South Korean.”
The maritime security firm added that with the latest incident the total number of kidnapped crew in West Africa within 2020 was 48….reports World Maritime News..
Meanwhile, Gulf Agency Company (GAC) has partnered with Singapore-based start-up F-drones to develop large-scale drones that can deliver up to 100kg of supplies over 100km to vessels and offshore platforms.
The international ship agency said that testing was underway on F-drones’ 3rd prototype that is capable of handling items up to 5kg over 50km.
Employment of drones in the supply of spare parts and supplies is expected to bring numerous benefits, especially with respect to cutting costs, saving time and increasing efficiency of the process.
Furthermore, since F-drones employs fully electric drones, the environmental footprint of the supply process would also be improved, GAC said.
At a time when social distancing as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is at the top of the agenda for many, delivery by drone can also help reduce social contact.
“Joining forces with F-drones is part of GAC’s drive to embrace technology to develop new ways to meet the demands of the maritime industry we serve,” says Lars Bergström, GAC Group Vice President, Asia Pacific & Indian Subcontinent.
“When fully commercialised, drones can be an attractive alternative to launches and helicopters for delivering supplies to vessels, especially for on-demand deliveries.”
GAC said that its Singapore office will be supporting F-drones in a test flight to deliver packages to vessels in the near future.
F-drones has received Singapore’s first Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) drone delivery permit and is now scaling up commercial delivery with an off-the-shelf drone.
“We are working towards launching our first commercial drone flight of our proprietary drone which can fly 10 times further later this year,” says Nicolas Ang, Co-founder & CEO of F-drones.
“The support of GAC and all our partners is vital in helping us make this happen.”
Besides GAC, F-drones counts Eastern Pacific Shipping, the Schulte Group, Techstars, Port XL, Entrepreneur First and Hafnia among its supporters….reports World Maritime News.

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