Pirates have abducted seven crew members from an anchor handling tug supply (AHTS) vessel offshore Equatorial Guinea, the vessel's owner Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) said.
The Singaporean-flagged Pacific Warden was attacked on November 20, 2019 at approximately 5 a.m. local time, while supporting offshore field operations in Equatorial Guinea, SPO confirmed on Sunday.
Seven of the 15 crew members on board have been taken by the attackers and are presently missing, while the other eight are safely ashore and unharmed, according to SPO.
Maritime intelligence group Dryad said local reports indicate that the 68.9-meter Pacific Warden was attacked by two speed boats while traveling from Luba, Boiko island to Serpentina/Zafiro field complex. The firm said it believes the piracy originates from within Nigerian waters.
SPO said local authorities and Equatorial Guinea's Navy responded quickly to the incident.
"The safety of the people on board our vessel is always our top priority. SPO will do everything possible to secure the safe and timely return of the missing crew members, in coordination with their families and relevant authorities," the company said.
Internationally, piracy has been in decline in recent years, but the Gulf of Guinea remains a high risk area for piracy and armed robbery. The region accounts for 86% of crew taken hostage and nearly 82% of crew kidnappings globally, according to the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB).