On Saturday the 73,400-dwt Orfeas (built 2008) wentmissing off Abidjan in the Ivory Coast reports security consultants AKE.

Thecrude and oil products tanker is owned by Greece’s Grace Management and is partof the Heidmar run Star Tankers pool.

TheOrfeas was scheduled to carry out two ship-to-ship (STS) transfer operationswith the Marshall Islands-flagged lightering vessel Admiral L off Abidjan.

Itcompleted the first STS operation, but went missing before the second operationtook place at around 0100 local time on 6 October.

Reportsfrom the vessel’s management company suggest the ship “switched off all lightsand sailed directly south with no explanation.”

The Bahamas-flaggedhas twenty-four Greek and Filipino crew on board, along with over 30,000 tonsof gasoline.

“Tankerhijackings have become a relatively frequent occurrence in the Gulf of Guinea,but have to date been limited to waters off Nigeria, Benin and Togo,” said AKE.

TheOrfeas’s disappearance follows two days after a German-owned tanker washijacked 80nm off Lome, Togo on 5 October.

Thetanker was held for around 24 hours whilst the attackers stole an unknownquantity of the gasoline cargo, before being released.

“IfOrfeas has been hijacked it will be the first such attack off Ivory Coast inrecent years, and will mark a significant expansion of piracy risk across theregion,” AKE said.

“Operatorsare advised ensure crews are well equipped and trained to deal with attacks atanchor, or underway.”

“Aproperly secured and equipped citadel can be highly effective in protecting thesafety of crewmembers in the event of attack.”

The number of attacks in the Gulf off Guinea now stands at 44 this year and have been on the rise recently, the International Maritime Bureau said.