Container ship attacked at Cotonou Anchorage. Pirates escaped, kidnapped 8. UPDATES

UPDATE Apr 21: Benin and Nigerian forces reportedly boarded the ship early in the morning Apr 21, finding the ship free of pirates. 11 crew sheltered in citadel are safe. 8 crew who were taken hostages are missing, presumably kidnapped by pirates. Benin and Nigerian authorities didn’t provide any other details. If what they said is true, pirates fled the ship with kidnapped seamen. How did they slip between surrounding TOMMI RITSCHER Benin and Nigerian naval ships, is a mystery. Hopefully, 8 missing seamen are indeed, kidnapped by fleeting pirates, safe and sound. Hopefully, nothing happened to them during Benin/Nigerian spec-op.
Earlier today MB received an inside info, not yet confirmed though seemed highly likely, that in the afternoon/evening Apr 20 the ship was about to be stormed by Benin and Nigerian special forces. Ship management asked Portuguese respective authorities to intervene and suspend the attack, fearing it may lead to crew casualties, though doubting, whether Portuguese authorities will intervene and put in enough pressure. Negotiator was already contacted to negotiate with pirates.

UPDATE Apr 20: As of morning Apr 20, situation didn’t change much, according to latest Dryad update. Understood there’s a standoff between deployed naval/security forces, including Nigerian, and pirates on board, who’re holding 8 crew as hostages and bargain chips.

UPDATE 1300 UTC: According to Dryad Global information, it is understood, that the speedboat from which pirates boarded container ship, fled seeing approaching Naval ship, leaving pirates aboard. 11 crew mustered in citadel, 8 crew remained in the open and are believed to be kept by pirates as hostages. There are Russian and Bulgarian nationalities among crew.

Container ship TOMMI RITSCHER attacked by pirates at around 0830 UTC Apr 19 at Cotonou Anchorage, Benin, Gulf of Guinea, details, outcome yet unknown. Benin-flagged Naval or security ship ZOU (MMSI 610000004) responded. As of 1000 UTC TOMMI RITSCHER remained in the same position, AIS was on, with ZOU nearby. TOMMI RITSCHER arrived at Cotonou Anchorage on Apr 15 from Congo-Brazzaville.
Container ship TOMMI RITSCHER, IMO 9656137, dwt 57500, capacity 4957 TEU, built 2014, flag Portugal, manager TRANSESTE SCHIFFAHRT GMBH (AIS, EQUASIS).



My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.