The nine crew members that were kidnapped from the bulk carrier MV Bonita off Cotonou, Benin, early November have been released, after 35 days in captivity, Norwegian shipowner J.J. Ugland informed.
Following the release on December 6, the seafarers went through medical examinations and were all declared fit for travel.
“After being safely transported out of Nigeria, the crew members have now safely arrived in Manila, Philippines, to reunite with their families and colleagues,” the company said. “Representatives from Ugland headquarters’ in Grimstad, Norway, and other parties have been actively engaged in the process of bringing the hostages home and have been present both in Nigeria and the Philippines.”
The terms of the crew’s release have not been disclosed.
“We are truly happy that the nine crew members are now reunited with their families and have their wellbeing at heart. I would on behalf of the company like to sincerely thank all parties that have contributed to resolving this difficult situation,” President Øystein Beisland added.
The nine crew members were taken hostage from the bulk carrier in the early morning hours of November 2, while the vessel was anchored off Cotonou, Benin.
The vessel was boarded by pirates while it was waiting for berth to discharge an inbound cargo of gypsum, a mineral commonly used as fertiliser, destined for Benin.
There is a growing concern in the industry over the recent spike in piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. Over the past month, at least three ships fell victim to piracy, the latest one resulting in the kidnapping of 19 crew members.
Activities are underway aimed at the release of the ill-fated seafarers, who were taken hostage from Nave Constellation while the tanker was sailing around 100 nautical miles off Bonny Island, Nigeria on December 3, 2019.
Unions and other industry bodies have been urging relevant authorities to allocate all necessary assets to the region in order to eliminate piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and protect the seafarers sailing through the region.