The Ministry of the Sea confirmed this Tuesday to Lusa that Portugal is following the attack on the Portuguese flag container ship Tommi Ritscher, but stressed that it is up to Benin to coordinate any actions to be taken.
“Given that the ship is within the territorial sea of Benin (within 12 nautical miles), it is up to the coastal state to decide and coordinate the actions to be taken,” said the Ministry of the Sea in a response sent to Lusa, in which he explained that, “in the case of a ship with a Portuguese flag, the matter is being monitored by the Portuguese authorities, namely by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which are in contact with the coastal State where the incident occurred”.
In the early hours of Saturday to Sunday, the container ship “Tommi Ritscher” was at anchor in the territorial sea of Benin, about 2.2 nautical miles from the port of Cotonou, where it was going to call, when it was the target of an attack by piracy, confirmed the Portuguese Government.
Using a speedboat, the pirates approached the ship at dawn and boarded. Security alarms were triggered and the crew responded to the assault, with Benin’s military forces immediately going to the scene.
According to the Ministry of the Sea, 11 crew members are safe and eight crew members are missing, presuming they were taken hostage; there were no Portuguese crew members on board, most of whom were Filipino citizens.
“The Ministry of the Sea is also monitoring the developments of this piracy action in coordination with the other national entities involved”, says the executive, noting that “the process of resolving this type of incident is mostly through the negotiation, which can be a lengthy process and involves specialists “.
The ship, 256 meters long and 38 meters wide (width), belongs to a German company (Reederei MS Tommi Ritscher GmbH & Co. KG) and was returning from Sri Lanka and India with cargo to Benin.
Piracy at sea is defined in Article 101 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), contemplating any illegal act of violence carried out against the crew or passengers of ships, as well as an illegal approach and taking control over the ship, which may be on the high seas or in the jurisdiction of a country.
On Monday Lusa reported, citing the maritime information website Dryad Global, that Portuguese flag carrier Tomii Ritscher had been approached by a speedboat off Cotonu, the capital of Benin, and several assailants boarded the ship. container carriers,
Portugal has a warship 800 kilometers from the site, as part of operations to combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.