The piracy situation in the Gulf of Guinea continues to be critical with yet another hijacking incident occurring near south Lome this week.

Maritime safety consultancy, Dryad Global, reported that Togo-flagged bunkering vessel, Stelios K, was boarded and hijacked while on route to Lagos. The operator reported loss of contact with the vessel, resulting in authorities seeking to establish the vessel location and make contact with the crew.

The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG), later received confirmation that the perpetrators were still on board while local authorities have been informed and negotiations are ongoing to secure the release of vessel and crew.

The crew onboard the vessel are believed to be safe.

“The lack of immediate kidnap would indicate that the perpetrators potentially sought options for either offloading or selling refined product that may be onboard,” Dryad Global said.

The incident follows two incidents in the Gulf over the last seven days, one with five crew onboard general cargo vessel, Am Delta, being kidnapped and the other with 14 crew kidnapped from Chinese heavylift ship, Zhen Hua 7.

“The Gulf of Guinea HRA was raised to a critical risk rating following a sharp increase in incidents in the past week, including two successful kidnappings within three days. Vessels are advised to exercise heightened caution in this region,” Dryad Global warned.