World Bulletin / News Desk
The navies of Ghana, Nigeria and Togo are conducting search operations for a Liberian-flagged oil tanker that disappeared off the coast of Ghana last week.
"Initial reports said the ship was in Ghanaian waters; other reports said in Togolese waters," acting Director of Public Affairs for the Ghana Armed Forces Lt. Col Aggrey Quashie told Anadolu Agency on Monday.
"To be frank, if you are dealing with Togo, you are in effect dealing with Nigeria, so we are in collaboration and sharing information," he added.
"We are looking within the whole sub-region, so everybody is searching within their territorial waters to see if they can find something," said Quashie.
There are fears that the Liberia-flagged MT Fair Artemis might have been captured by pirates operating in the Gulf of Guinea.
"For now, I cannot confirm that," said the army spokesperson. "I would not want to speculate on anything until the vessel is found."
"Let's get the vessel and then we will know from the people on board exactly what happened," said Quashie.
He could not provide any immediate information regarding the size of the lost tanker's crew.
The oil tanker is thought to have made its last contact with its managers, Fairdeal Group S.A., at 6pm Wednesday.
Ghana has two major seaports: one at Tema, east of Accra, and another in the city of Takoradi in the Western Region, where the country operates a substantial offshore oil industry.
Paul Asare Ansah, head of public relations at the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority, said it would be bad news for Ghana if it turned out that the ship had been captured by pirates.
"One of our strengths is the fact that our territorial waters are very secure… and this [an incident of piracy] will reflect on the attitude of the international shipping community towards our port," he told AA.
"We maintain the security of our anchorage, so that is secured because we have obtained patrol boats and we regularly patrol those areas together with the navy and the maritime police," said the official.
"So we can renew assurance of safety and security in our ports and its environment," he added.
Ansah went on to say that – as far as piracy was concerned – Africa's West Coast had become more dangerous even than the coast of Somalia.
A Korean fishing vessel was recently hijacked off the coast of Ghana. It was later spotted inside Nigerian territorial waters.
Kamal Deen, an expert in maritime law and security, described the hijacking as "another major indication that the maritime security environment in the Gulf of Guinea is becoming a threat."
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