Ship is secured after hijacking off West Africa, Maersk says

A container ship owned by A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S was attacked off the coast of West Africa, prompting the company to warn of a rising risk from piracy in the area.

The Maersk Cadiz was boarded by “criminals” on Saturday at about 2:30 p.m. Nigeria time while traveling from Tema in Ghana to Kribi in Cameroon, Maersk said in a statement. Nigerian naval ships have arrived to help the vessel, which can transport the equivalent of as many as 4,500 twenty-foot containers.

All 21 crew have been confirmed as safe, and the vessel has been secured, a Maersk spokeswoman said. The ship was carrying cargo when attacked.

The West African coast overtook Southeast Asia last year as the worst area for reported piracy and kidnappings at sea, with the number of seafarers seized rising by more than 50%, according to a study. Despite a global decline in piracy in 2019, attacks have continued in the Gulf of Guinea this year, especially off Nigeria’s coast.

“We are very concerned about the increased security risk from armed attacks on merchant vessels in the area,” Maersk Chief Technical Officer Palle Laursen said in a statement. “The risk has reached a level where local governments and the international community must take action to deal effectively with an unacceptable situation.”

The Maersk Cadiz was built in 2013 and sails under the Singaporean flag.