Confusion surrounds the latest reports of a tanker hijacking in the Gulf of Guinea.
Security companies and piracy reporting bodies said the unnamed vessel was boarded by pirates at 5.30pm local time (1630 GMT) roughly 100 km southwest of Benin’s port city of Cotonou.
But on Wednesday morning, Greek security company Diaplous Group released new information that the incident was a “false alarm.”
Diaplous said: "The boarding was not a piracy incident, but a military operation, carried out by the Nigerian Navy."
No further details were given.
Dryad Global had reported that all crew were in the vessel’s citadel.
“Vessels to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant,” the security company warned
Dryad said that there are 21 seafarers, all Indian nationals, on board and that the ship had just left Lagos.
The vessel was not named, but the 74,900-dwt product tanker Kamome Victoria (built 2011) fits the description of the ship and is the only tanker in the area, according to automatic identification system (AIS) data.
AIS shows the ship was headed to Antwerp.
The Kamome Victoria is flagged in Panama, its commercial manager is Mitsui OSK Lines and it is listed on Hafnia's website as in its LR pool.
MOL and Hafnia have been approached for comment.
The Gulf of Guinea has taken the mantle of the world's piracy hotspot in recent years, but the last several months have been somewhat peaceful in the west African waterway.
Of the 37 incidents of piracy tabulated by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in the first quarter of the year, nearly all were boardings of anchored ships, with the majority occurring in Southeast Asia.
The lone hijacking occurred in Ghana, with the pirates departing with stolen goods. The crew was reported safe.
That was followed by a Greek-owned bulker being boarded offshore Togo in early April.
But no crew members have been kidnapped in 2022, a turnaround from the 40 kidnappings seen in the Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of 2021 and 57 total for the full year.
The IMB credited local authorities for the drop but stressed the need for continued vigilance.
“The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre however urges the coastal response agencies and independent international navies to continue their efforts to ensure piracy is permanently addressed in these highly risky waters,” the centre said.