UK Tanker Presumed Hijacked

It has been over a week since any contact has been made with the oil products tanker Barrett.

TThe vessel’s last known whereabouts differ, with reports claiming connection with the vessel was lost whilst the vessel was at Cotonou Anchorage (Benin, Gulf of Guinea) whereas other reports state the vessel was underway.

The last position received by was 6°11’51.4N 2°28’11.6E on 09 January at 0947 UTC, however there are also other unofficial reports of the vessel’s last known position being 05°07N 002°21E on 10 January at 0903 UTC.

The vessel was partially laden and had 22 crew on board when it went missing, leading some to suggest that the tanker could have been hijacked for its cargo and any crew on board may be subsequently kidnapped and held to ransom.

The tanker is owned by UK based company Union Maritime who have released the following statement;

“Whilst we are tirelessly working to locate the vessel, our primary concern is for the 22 crew on board and ensuring their safety. Union Maritime regularly operates from ports in this region and has a rigorous safety and security protocol. Crews are repeatedly drilled in all safety and emergency procedures.”

Regal Maritime Solutions (RMS) understands the unique challenges operating in West Africa at the present time. Counter-piracy measures in the West African territorial waters of Nigeria (Lagos), Togo (Lome), Benin (Cotonou), and Ghana (Accra & Tema) face greater restrictions, particularly on the use of armed security teams from Private Maritime Security Companies.

However there are options for ship owners who operate in the region. RMS provides a liaison service between the local authorities and national armed forces to organise military escorts for vessels sailing the West African coast. RMS also provides experienced unarmed Maritime Security Officers who work alongside the armed forces and aid in communication between the vessels Master and the military, ensuring vessel’s security is at an optimal level at all times.