In a press release by Dynacom Tankers Management, the managers of the ‘missing’, then confirmed hijacked tanker, Kerala, stated that the vessel and crew are safe, however, one crew member was wounded. A large amount of the oil cargo was stolen.

Precise details of the hijack are sketchy and the Angola Navy comments about faking the hijack are not commented upon in this release, but it is considered that this particular incident has many questions to answer in view of the length of time the vessel was stated as missing. The statement is as follows:

We are the Managers of the vessel “Kerala” (IMO No. 9390927) which was recently hijacked at Angola, Luanda Anchorage.

We are relieved to advise that on Sunday, 26 January 2014, we were able to re-establish contact with the vessle and speak to the Master. All crew members are alive and accounted for, but one is wounded and all have clearly been affected by their ordeal. A large amount of cargo has been stolen.

We lost contact with the vessel on 18 January 2014. We instigated our emergecny response procedures and engaged professionals experienced in dealing with these type of incidents to assist us.

It quickly became apparent that we were dealing with a piracy incident and that the vessel had been hijacked. In accordance with good practice, we did not provide detailed press releases whilst the situation was unfolding, but worked alongside the relevant authorities to try to resolve the incident.

We would like to thank the European, North American and other international intelligence agencies who worked with us during this incident, as well as the regional and international navies who dispatched assets to monitor the pirates provided support and assistance to us.

Representative of international law enforcement and intelligence agencies that are experienced in dealing with piracy incidents will be attending on board to gather intelligence and forensic evidence from the vessel and crew in order to bring to justice those that perpetrated this crime on our vessel and our people.

Captain Augusto Alfredo, spokesman for the Angolan navy on the other hand, told Reuters earlier on Sunday that the ship had been located in Nigeria and that reports of a hijacking were false.

The reports raised concern that piracy off West Africa was spreading south from the Gulf of Guinea, near Africa’s biggest oil producer Nigeria, where most hijacking gangs are believed to originate.

An SOS raised by another tanker in Angolan waters saying it was under attack from pirates on Friday was also a false alarm, he added.

Pirate attacks jumped by a third last year off West Africa. Any attack off Angola, which is the continent’s No. 2 crude producer, would be the most southerly to date.

Source: Oceanus Live

Original Source: Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd

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