SINGAPORE: A Singapore-registered tanker which has been uncontactable since it was boarded by "unidentified persons" earlier this week has been found in waters off Ivory Coast, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on Sunday (Apr 16).
All 20 crew members of the Success 9 including the one Singaporean who was on board are "safe and in good health", MPA said in a media release.
The ship was boarded at about 10pm (Singapore time) on Monday about 300 nautical miles (556km) off the coast of Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast. The West African nation is also known as Côte d'Ivoire.
"Since the boarding of the Singapore-registered ship Success 9 by unidentified persons on Apr 10, 2023, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has been coordinating with the ship owner and multinational agencies through the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) and the Monrovia Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to search for the ship," MPA said.
"These multinational agencies included the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea, together with the regional security forces, the French navy, coast guards and maritime administrations from Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
"All nearby and passing commercial ships were also cued to help in the search for Success 9."
At about 5pm (Singapore time) on Saturday, MPA was informed that the ship had been located off the coast of Abidjan.
"A commercial ship, Monjasa Sprinter, passing by had earlier picked up a distress call from Success 9," MPA said.
"The master of Monjasa Sprinter then reported the location of Success 9 to the latter's company security officer (CSO). The CSO updated MPA, who immediately informed the IFC and Monrovia Regional MRCC."
An Ivory Coast navy patrol vessel was then deployed to confirm the report, and its crew subsequently boarded the Success 9.
"All crew, including the Singaporean crew, were safe and in good health. The ship has since safely arrived at Abidjan port," MPA said. MPA did not give the nationalities of the remaining crew.
CNA has contacted MPA for more information.
According to Refinitiv ship-tracking data on Tuesday, the Success 9 had been operating in the West African zone for the past 60 days.
Its last shipping fixture record showed that it was carrying diesel, according to Vortexa data.
According to the ship-tracking website MarineTraffic, the Success 9 was built about 20 years ago and has a length of about 108m and a width of about 17m.
On Tuesday, an Ivorian security source told Reuters that a patrol boat had been sent out to rescue the tanker, but was unable to locate it because its beacon had been turned off.
"We think it's an act of piracy because the modus operandi is the same," the source, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters.
"We have sought external help from Spain and from Europe," the source added.
On Thursday, the Success 9's owner the Hai Soon Group said that it had not been able to establish communications with the vessel since it was boarded.
MPA said that it had advised all Singapore-registered ships to "exercise caution" and implement the guidelines published in Best Management Practices West Africa when operating in the region to mitigate piracy-associated threats.
"Companies should also regularly review their ship security assessment and plan under the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code," MPA added.
"Companies are advised to report all pirate activity, including both actual and attempted attacks, as well as suspicious sightings, to local authorities."
The boarding of the Success 9 followed a similar incident in the region on Mar 26 in which the Liberia-flagged oil tanker Monjasa Reformer was reportedly boarded by five armed people, according to a report by the Maritime Domain Awareness Trade - Gulf of Guinea, a joint maritime monitoring initiative by France and the United Kingdom.