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A Panama-registered oil tanker that disappeared from radar three weeks ago en route to Senegal has now reportedly washed up in Liberia without its crew, sparking fears of a pirate attack gone very wrong.
The last location of Tamaya 1, which is registered in Panama, was recorded on April 22, heading to the port of Dakar, Senegal, from the south. All contact with the crew was then lost.
In 2014 alone, there were some 20 recorded pirate attacks; however, authorities remain at a loss so far over how this tanker washed up off course without its crew, and an alternative theory is that the crew simply abandoned ship mid-journey.
“Our best bet is that the vessel's owner might have gone broke and had no money to pay crew members; and therefore, the crew abandoned the ship”, a source with the Liberian National Port Authority said, as cited by British news outlets.
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But locals in northern Liberia where the vessel washed up said it took the local authorities a couple of days to notice the mysterious presence of the ship and send in an investigative team.
Authorities argued that the abandoned ship posed no security threat to locals and hence the slow response. But armed patrols were dispatched to the area after looting was reported. The stolen cargo, including crude oil, was retrieved.
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In the meantime, Liberia’s coast guard chief, maritime security chief and high ranking government officials have since visited the scene and an investigation is under way.
The mystery deepens as all communications and other major parts of the ship were removed, apparently in a deliberate move, before authorities arrived to inspect the vessel. There were no recent operational documents on board, according to reports.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com