Pirates have attacked a cargo vessel operated by French marine service company Bourbon, kidnapping seven crew members, including six Russians and one Estonian, off the coast of Nigeria.
Another nine crew members were left on the cargo vessel, Bourbon Liberty 249, which has safely docked at the Nigerian port of Onne.
Bourbon said that the remaining crew members are safe and in good health, and it has set up an emergency unit to help the missing sailors.
The French shipping firm has not disclosed the exact location of the vessel at the time of the attack but said that its emergency unit aims to secure the freedom of the kidnapped seamen under the safest security conditions.
Nigerian navy spokesman Commodore Kabir Aliyu told reporters that Nigerian forces are searching for the pirates involved in the attack, according to Reuters.
Private security consultants Drum Cussac said the incident happened about 40 nautical miles off Brass along Nigeria’s southern coast.
Bourbon Liberty 249 is an anchor handling vessel, which is used to tow anchors to oil rigs or mobile drilling rigs.
Another Bourbon-operated ship was attacked in 2010 in an oilfield off the Nigerian coast; three French crewmen were kidnapped and later released.
Earlier in October 2012, a Panamax tanker was boarded by Nigerian pirates, which is claimed to be the first such vessel hijack off the Ivory Coast.
The ship was attacked when it was anchored and midway through a ship to ship (STS) operation off Abidjan.
The hijacked vessel, which was carrying more than 30,000t of gasoline, left Abidjan, passing the neighbouring waters and coastlines of Ghana, Togo and Benin, before reaching Nigerian waters.
In the first six months of 2012, the International Maritime Bureau has recorded 17 pirate attacks in Nigerian waters, compared to six in 2011.
During the first half of 2012, worldwide sea piracy declined by 54%, driven by a drop in Somali piracy according to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest piracy report.