Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea region, is becoming an increasing concern to the maritime sector due to the recent increase in activity in comparison to the decline shown in other areas including Somalia. It is gathered that unlike pirates from Somalia who are after ransom, pirates in West Africa in the past have resorted to either part /full cargo sale and/or ransom.
IMB Piracy report for 2017 revealed ten incidents of kidnappings involving 65 crew members in and around West African waters. However, no vessel hijacking took place in the Gulf of Guinea during 2017.
The situation in Gulf of Guinea region, especially at Cotonou anchorage, Benin has thereafter escalated with two tankers having been recently hijacked from this location, the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker 'MT Barrett' and the oil tanker 'Marine Express'. These vessels were released subsequently, with the crew members reported to be safe.
A third incident had been reported of the attempt on an anchored product tanker on 17 February at Cotonou Anchorage, Benin. As the crew were watchful, Master could immediately sent an SSAS alert and all crew took shelter in the citadel. The IMB PRC received information from the owners of the vessel and thereafter informed the Benin Navy Maritime Ops Centre, who sent three patrol boats to the location immediately. The Navy personnel boarded the tanker, made a search and found no unauthorised persons onboard. The master and crew were found to be safe and they emerged from the citadel under the supervision of the Navy.
Additionally, the following incidents were reported in 2018 in the West African region;
On 9 February, around 50 nm SW of Bonny, Nigeria, pirates boarded a vessel and some crew members were reported missing.
In the same day, around 8 nm west of Debundsha, Cameroon, pirates attacked a fishing vessel and all crew are reported missing.
On 15 February, around 40.62 nm SSW of Bonny, Nigeria, pirates fired upon a vessel, but aborted due to the arrival of the navy.
On 19 February, around 25 nm SE of Brass, Nigeria, six pirates armed with rifles in a black hull coloured speed boat approached and attempted to board a tanker underway. Master raised the alarm, activated SSAS, took anti-piracy preventive measures and crew secured all access doors. The pirates made seven attempts to hook an aluminium ladder on the tanker’s railing but were unsuccessful due to the evasive manoeuvres. The pirates fired upon at the tanker and moved away. A Nigerian navy boat arrived at the scene. The tanker and crew are safe, and resumed her passage.
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