Pirates seize Koreans, Ghanaian on high seas
Pirates, on Wednesday, abducted six crew members of a Ghanaian flagged fishing vessel, Motor Vessel (MV) Panofi Frontier, owned by Panofi Fisheries Limited in Béninois waters.
The captives, five Koreans and one Ghanaian, have since been taken to unknown destination.
In the meantime, the Ghana Navy gunboat, GNS Garinga, one of the Snake Class Ships, which was dispatched to search for the pirates, got in contact with the fishing vessel and was expected to escort her back to the Tema Port as at 1400 hours on yesterday.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, confirming the incident to this reporter, stated that it was the owners of MV Panofi who prompted the Ghanaian naval authorities of the happening, and they, in turn, rebroadcast the message of the piracy to sister navies in the West African sub-region for action.
According to the Navy Commander, a number of naval patrols from Nigeria, Benin, Togo and a French warship transiting to Nigeria are on the lookout for the crew, who were taken away by the pirates.
Rear Admiral Amoama continued that pirates usually approach the fishing vessels in skiff crafts, described as fast moving and with armed crews.
The Chronicle gathered that MV Panofi’s attack took place at 1430 hours on Wednesday, 80 nautical miles in the Benin waters, south of Lagos. Intelligence had it that the 1987-built International Maritime Organisation (IMO) registered 8988806 and Dead Weight Ton (DWT) was fishing legally in that zone of the Gulf of Guinea.
During the raid, some of the crew hid in the vessel, and after the capture and departure with the six, it became necessary that the Second Officer had to take over the bridge and navigate towards safety.
The paper’s enquiries disclosed that if the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) on shore were to be active, this situation would have been averted.
The paper, about a fortnight ago raised alarm to the effect that the transponders of the VMS of the Fisheries Commission have not been functioning for months now.
The system allows the monitoring of Ghanaian flagged fishing vessels, locations identified, and in case of pirate attacks, an immediate signal is activated automatically by way of Save Our Souls (SOS) to world navies and aircrafts for assistance.