Maritime Accidents of the past Week

While the rest of the world was busy with Christmas shopping and last minute preparations for parties; those who have a job at sea had a very busy week indeed. The New Year’s Eve appeared to be rich in maritime accidents of all kinds; pirates’ attacks, vessels’ crashes and people disappearances.


Pirates in SOMS
Credits to ReCAAP

Surge of Piracy in Malacca Strait

End of 2019 was marked by an incredible surge of piracy all over the world. ReCAAP ISC (Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia) reports 5 ships’ boarding incidents in Malacca Strait in the last ten days of the year.

Assaults had a typical pattern for the region; there were 3 -6 perpetrators armed with knives or wooden poles. They stole personal belongings from the crew and engine spares or run empty handed once seafarers raised an alarm. All attacks happened in close proximity which suggests that the same gang was responsible.  Although no serious damage was caused, the total number of attacks in SOMS (Strait of Malacca and Singapore) region reaches 30 this year which almost quadruples 2018 figures (there were only 8 actual attacks near Singapore in 2018) which is a disturbing tendency.

Credits to


Present activity of pirates is still comparatively low compared to 104 incidents in 2015, but authorities and maritime community are concerned as Singapore proves to be the busiest port in the world with 140 000 vessels per year, so safety is a prime requirement.

Pirates’ Attacks in West Africa

Another region with formidable safety issues is West Africa. There were 4 incidents with pirates on the Christmas Eve. 20 Indian seafarers were kidnapped from the oil/chemical tanker MT Duke some 110 nautical miles off the coast of Benin. The vessel was on her way from Luanda (Angola) to Lome (Togo) with the cargo of fuel oil when she was boarded by 6 armed pirates.

All crew members were kidnapped as a result of the attack except for the Nigerian cadet. Indian Government has established a dialog with pirates and conducts negotiations regarding release of the crew. Seafarers are reported to be safe.

Eight people were abducted from another chemical/oil tanker right on the 31st of December. 5 Greek seafarers, 2 Filipino and 1 Ukrainian seafarer were kidnapped from the Greek-flagged ‘Happy Lady’ off Cameroon. Sixth Greek seaman was injured during the assault. The vessel in owned and operated by Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Ltd, so Greek Shipping Ministry took over the process of seafarers’ release.

One more accident took place in Gabon. Four Chinese sailors were abducted and the fate of 1 crew member is still unknown. Two fishing trawlers Guoji 867 and 838 were at Owendo Anchorage that used to be a safe spot compared to the rest of West Africa. It is reported that Masters and Chief Mates were taken from the vessels.

Piracy in West Africa
Credits to Ryan’s Africa Blog


Furthermore, it is understood that only the second attempt of assault was successful. At first, canoes filled with armed men approached another three vessels at anchorage (MVs’ Shail Al Doha, African Kalmia and Renauld), but they raised an alarm and canoe disappeared.

Meanwhile, Turkish Suezmax tanker has managed to thwart a pirates’ attack on Christmas Eve in Nigeria. MT Istanbul was approached by a high-speed craft with nine armed men being 180 nm southwest off Brass and performed evasive maneuvers. Pirates tried two assaults of the tanker, failed to board and withdrew. Crew was uninjured and tanker continued her passage safely.

Security experts, Dryad Marine, claim that the focus of incidents has moved this year from the south of Port Harcourt to the Eastern fringe of Nigerian EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) due to the density of traffic and abundance oil infrastructure. This is the seventh incident occurring there in a row; four of them involved kidnapping; and only 2 failed.

Crashes, Failures and Men Overboard

Last week of the year was full of various maritime accidents. Containership Songa Iridium caused havoc in Bosporus Strait when mechanical failure led to the vessel to hit a shore. The containership is Sub Panamax size and belongs to the Norwegian shipowner Songa Container AS.

There were 19 crewmembers onboard; and the vessel was navigated by pilot, but apparently there was a mechanical breakdown that resulted in ship running aground near Rumelihisari on the European bank of the Bosporus.  Traffic was suspended for some hours, but there were no casualties of the accident.

Containership runs aground in Bosporus
Credits to


More spectacular crash has happened on the 21st of December off Sardinia coast. Italian-flagged cargo vessel MV Cdry Blue was caught in severe storm and smashed into shore cliffs. The ship was going from Cagliari (Italy) to Alicante (Spain) and had 12 seafarers onboard and at the time of the incident.

Rescue operation was hampered by extreme weather, so coast guard sent helicopter to winch crew from the stranded vessel (watch video). No one was injured as a result of the crash, but the 8100dwt Cdry Blue suffered damage from the cliffs and awaits end of storm to be tugged for repair.

Credits to Fleetmon


Probably the most tragic maritime accident has happened on the 2nd of January. Two seafarers were washed overboard from Bulgarian bulk carrier Stara Planina 210 NM southwest from Bodo in Norwegian Sea. SAR operation is carried out by helicopters and the vessel itself, but seamen weren’t wearing even lifejackets, so there is very little chance to find them alive in cold water after so many hours.