Due to a reported commercial dispute, a Singapore-flagged Aframax tanker has been seized by private militiamen off of the waters of Cameroon, central Africa.
The vessel, the Barents Sea, is manned by 26 crew members from India, Ukraine, China, Philippines, and Turkey. It was seized by armed militiamen from Cameroon bearing K-47 submachine guns at the Sonara refinery in Limbe, Cameroon, according to a statement released on February 3, Sunday, by Eastern Pacific Shipping, a ship management company based in Singapore.
“Eastern Pacific Shipping confirms that while performing standard discharge operations, its managed Aframax M/T Barents Sea has been illegally seized by DSC Marine, a local charterer, and local Cameroonian military forces armed with AK-47 submachine guns in the Sonara refinery in Limbe, Cameroon.”
The shipping company said that the owner of DSC Marine, Jules François Famawa, “used illegitimate means to seize the vessel for the purpose of holding its owners to ransom in clear violation of Cameroonian and international law”.
Furthermore, the company condemned Famawa’s actions. “Eastern Pacific Shipping condemns this act of unprovoked aggression and strongly urges the Cameroonian government to enforce its security forces to safely and immediately release the vessel and the 26 crew on board in accordance with international law.”
According to Eastern Pacific Shipping, the safety of the crewmen is the most important issue in the matter. “The safe release of our crew, which includes nationals from India, Ukraine, China, Philippines, and Turkey is our main priority. There have been no reports of physical injuries.”
The Maritime Executive reports that the only crude oil refinery in Cameroon has been closed since late last month because of a lack of crude oil. Additionally, the Singapore-flagged vessel has been anchored off the coast of Cameroon from the middle of December with its cargo still intact, due to a financial dispute.