The Liberian Government, through the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), has strongly condemned the growing scourge of piracy and kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea. In a release, Liberia calls for urgent multilateral action to address this menace in West Africa.
The release said the call comes after the gruesome and brazen pirate attack on the Liberian flagged containership, the MOZART, which led to the death of one seafarer, and the kidnapping of fifteen others on Saturday, January 23, 2021 about 100 nautical miles off the coast of Sao Tome and Principe.
“The vessel while underway from Lagos, Nigeria to Cape Town, South Africa was boarded by four armed pirates at sea. This attack is yet another in a region that has become the world’s most dangerous waterway for merchant vessels,” the release said.
The Commissioner of Maritime Affairs of Liberia, Mr. Lenn Eugene Nagbe said: “We strongly condemn the attack against this Liberian vessel and her crew. Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased, and with those whose loved ones have now been kidnapped. Liberia, as flag State of the vessel, have initiated an investigation pursuant to Article 94 of the United Nations Law of the Sea. We look forward to cooperating closely with the coastal and port States involved, as well as representatives from the governments of the seafarers.”
The vessel and her cargo have been safely moved to Gabon for further instructions.. So far, neither the flag state nor the owners of the vessels have received a call from the perpetrators of this illegal attack. Meanwhile, 15 crew members are still been held, hostage.
Commissioner Nagbe said that “it is now even more urgent for the industry to acknowledge that protocols and procedures will not prevent a piracy attack, papers cannot stop an RPG or an AK47, a merchant marine seafarer should not be left with no other option other than hide in the citadel counting minute to get kidnapped. We need to come with a stronger approach to the problem which just keeps escalating”.
Commissioner Nagbe further calls for practical and urgent solutions: “This problem of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is only worsening. As an African country and leading maritime state, we will work closely with our local allies to find a solution, we must take greater action to face this threat in a practical and efficient manner. The lives of the seafarers that trade within our waters and carry out our commerce depend on it.”
The government of Liberia and its registry is working closely with the Shipowners stakeholders solve the problem.
LiMA will continue to work closely with all the relevant parties on this case particularly with the government of Nigeria, Turkey, and Azerbaijan as well as on the larger issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.