Additional information has come out regarding the attack on an OSV in Gabon over the weekend. The details suggest that, unlike typical piracy attacks, the ship may have been targeted by local authorities investigating people who were hired ashore to provide services to the ship while at anchor.
Family members of the crew as well as a representative of Mumbai-based management company Proactive Ship Management speaking to the Indo-Asian News Service confirmed the violent nature of the attack. The boarders boarded shortly after midnight on September 5 and were reportedly armed with Ak-47s. They opened fire when the Indian crew aboard the Tamp down attempted to retaliate. The ship’s chief officer and cook suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were taken to hospital.
The report also suggests that during the fight, boarders threw the ship’s second engineer overboard. The details are muddled, with some media outlets suggesting he may have been kidnapped then while others said authorities were searching the anchorage for the missing crew member.
Proactive IANS Captain Sunil Kumar said the Tamp down was sailing with a crew of 17 Indians from Cameroon to Dubai when the vessel had problems with its propulsion system. They had decided to anchor at the Gabonese anchorage of Owendo.
At anchor, three people were hired ashore to provide services. Two were technicians who maintained the ship while the third picked up garbage from the ship. Gabonese authorities are reportedly investigating these three individuals for possible involvement in the attack.
The shipping company said there was an armed security guard on board the OSV and its purpose was to help the crew. However, the families complained to Indian media that the company was not responsive. The company said it would provide a replacement crew, but expected the crew to stay with the ship and continue their journey.
The Indian company has started operating the Tamp down, a 4,300 dwt tanker built in 2006 after being resold by Bourbon. the Tamp down is currently registered in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Although there have been previous attacks on ships and kidnappings in Gabon, security analysts from Dryad International called the attack unusual. They noted that if confirmed, it would be the first kidnapping in Gabon in 2021.