The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is urging ships and crew transiting the Gulf of Guinea to remain alert and not let their guard down.
This call comes as in the beginning of the month, and specifically on 11 March, pirates boarded a Maltese-flagged chemical tanker while underway about 210 nautical miles south of Cotonou and kidnapped 15 crew members.
The ship had a crew of 21, and the remaining six seafarers are said to be on board and safe though unqualified to navigate the ship.
IMB says this attack could signal a reignition of serious kidnapping incidents in the Gulf of Guinea after a period of relatively low activity during the last four weeks after much focus was centred on heightened kidnapping activity in the region.
This would be totally unacceptable, and there remains an urgent need to address this crime, which continues to have a direct impact on the safety and security of innocent seafarers. Flag States and seafarer nations are urged to voice their opinion and back the shipping industry in their continued efforts to muster an immediate and meaningful response to this criminal activity
For this reason, it urges vessels and crew transiting the area to keep a vigilant lookout using all available means and to follow recommendations and guidelines in the BMP WA.
Reporting of all incidents is essential to ensure that adequate regional or international resources are deployed to meaningfully address this crime, IMB adds.
IMB data shows that the Gulf of Guinea recorded the highest ever number of crew kidnapped in 2020, with 130 crew taken in 22 separate incidents. This compares to the previous high of 121 crew kidnapped in 2019 from 17 incidents.
Crew have been kidnapped from all types of vessels with the most recent attack being the furthest recorded kidnapping incident.