TASS, August 24. The oil tanker, the Pantelena flying the Panamanian flag, which went missing off Gabon’s coast on August 14, has been spotted by the multinational coordination center in Pointe Noire, Congo and taken to Gabon’s port of Owendo, Africanews reported on Thursday.
According to the portal, the 121-meter tanker carrying about 7,000 tonnes of fuel, with 19 crew members, 17 Georgian and two Russian nationals, was spotted while patrolling the maritime area in the Gulf of Guinea. No information is available about the crew’s health condition and why there had been no contact with the vessel.
The Georgian foreign ministry reported about the loss of radio contact with the Pantelena on August 17. It said that the sea transport agency under the economics ministry was in contact with Greek’s Lotus Shipping Co, the ship’s owner, to spot the tanker. Britain’s UKMTO and navies of the regional countries were involved in the search operation. On August 21, Georgia’s seamen trade union said the Pantelena had been seized by pirates and its crew were alive.
The Russian foreign ministry also said it was keeping a close eye on the situation.
On Monday, Gabon’s authorities said the search operation was over, with the tanker not found.
Following the defeat of most of Somali pirates, the center of maritime banditry off Africa shifted to the Gulf of Guinea. Since the beginning of the year, as many as 107 incidents have been reported from that area, including seizures of four ships and abduction of 25 seamen.