A Monjasa tanker hijacked by pirates six days ago has been located and secured off Sao Tome & Principe, but six of the seafarers on board have been kidnapped.

Reporting organisation MDAT-GoG said the 13,700-dwt product carrier Monjasa Reformer (built 2003) was found on Thursday night 91 nautical miles offshore.

The incident was described as “complete” and the vessel “safe”.

The French Navy later confirmed that its offshore patrol vessel Premier L’Her found the ship en route to Nigeria on 30 March, during an aerial reconnaissance drone flight.

A pirate vessel was sighted alongside the tanker.

In a follow-up drone flight, the pirate boat was no longer by the tanker.

The patrol ship received a VHF CH16 distress call from the Monjasa Reformer that evening.

The remaining crew confirmed that six of their colleagues had been kidnapped, as opposed to earlier reports of three crew members being abducted.

A rescue operation was then conducted in tandem with the Nigerian navy.

Three seafarers were treated for minor injuries.

The tanker was escorted into the port of Lome by the French ship and a Nigerian naval vessel.

The crew was last reported to have made it safely inside the tanker’s citadel.

Danish owner Monjasa confirmed the ship was safe, but said “part of the crew” has been abducted.

The company is not providing exact details for security reasons.

The rescued crew members were all said to be in good health and safely located in a secure environment and receiving proper attention following the dreadful events, the company said.

“Our thoughts are with the crew members still missing and their families during this stressful period. Monjasa will continue working closely with the local authorities to support our seafarers’ safe return to their families,” Monjasa added.

The shipowner thanked the French navy and all other parties who provided their assistance.

There was no damage reported to the ship or cargo.

In the hour before the news, MDAT-GoG issued an increased threat of piracy warning.

The Monjasa Reformer was boarded off Pointe Noir, Republic of the Congo, on 25 March.

It was then spotted 470 nautical miles from that location on 28 March, 282 nautical miles southwest of Annobon Island, Equatorial Guinea.

The Liberia-flag vessel is owned by Denmark's Monjasa and managed by Montec Ship Management.

Monjasa has been contacted for further information.

Contact lost

The vessel had been sitting idle at the time of the boarding.

Contact was lost with the ship.

The Monjasa Reformer is employed in West Africa as part of Monjasa’s global marine fuels operations and was carrying marine gas oil, very low sulphur fuel oil and high sulphur fuel oil products on board.

The Danish group earlier said the safety and well-being of crews and contractors are its top priority, not least in West Africa where piracy is a known risk factor.

To minimise the risk of personal injury, as well as operating losses due to assault, the group has implemented an anti-piracy policy which includes an extensive description of how the crew and the officers should act in case of piracy attacks.

The policy comprises measures to be taken both during and after a possible assault.