Eight crew members held hostage for a month following an armed attack by pirates off the coast of West Africa have been released and are on their way home safe and well according to reports from Dryad Global.
The 5,000TEU Tommi Ritscher, was attacked on 20 April, while at anchorage four miles off Benin. Eleven crew members were able to reach the citadel safely, however, a further eight crew were captured by pirates.
Lack of guards and correct hardening gave Tommi Ritscher pirates a free hand.
Troops belonging to Nigerian special forces boarded the Portuguese container ship Tommi Ritscher on evening of 20 April unopposed, there was no sign of the pirates that attacked the vessel or the eight crew that had not managed to take refuge in the citadel.
Reports from the security firm Dryad Global said the 11 crew members that did take refuge in the citadel were rescued and are well.
It is understood that the crew contacted the Singapore office of the owners Transeste Schiffahrt via a satellite phone. “It is often difficult to communicate using these phones so there can be some confusion,” explained Anderson. He went on to say, the crew in the citadel, using cameras and other methods still thought the pirates were on board.
Anderson said, “It was most likely that the crew had been kidnapped at an early stage of the attack, although another, less likely scenario was that the pirates had returned at a later stage.”
Anderson said that the Benin Navy vessel was within sight of the Tommi Ritscher and he thought it unlikely that the attackers would risk bringing another vessel alongside while the navy was in close attendance.
Tommi Ritscher had a crew of 19 of which three were Russians, the rest were Filipino, Bulgarian and Ukrainian nationals. At this stage it is not known which crew members were snatched.
The captured crew was released on 20 May 2020 after 31 days of detention. All are in good condition, said the reports.