Piracy and armed robbery activity remains a significant threat to ship and crew safety in West African waters. The latest incidents, reported to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) 24-hour worldwide Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the last three months, are cited below.
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea offers many riches, but it also faces a multitude of interconnected maritime security challenges. As maritime piracy knows no borders, the nations around the Gulf of Guinea have organized themselves into a coordinated security effort, in order to combat crime.
ForestWave informed that it managed to establish contact with the crew of the cargo vessel ‘FWN Rapide’, that were taken hostage off Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on April 21. The company confirmed that all remaining eleven seafarers are alive and together. Of the 12 crew that were taken hostage, one was found hiding onboard the ship.
Twelve crew members were kidnapped after the general cargo vessel ‘FWN Rapide’ became subject of a piracy attack in Nigerian waters, in the morning hours of 22 April, according to the vessel’s Dutch manager ForestWave. Pirates attacked the ship prior to entering the port of Port Harcourt.
After a recent piracy attack on the Ghanaian fishing vessel, “Marine 711”, and the kidnapping of five sailors who were onboard the vessel, the Deputy Minister for Transport, Daniel Titus-Glover, has called port officials to make security at Ghana’s ports more strict, in order to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has set maritime safety in the Gulf of Guinea as one of the most important factors, in order for Nigeria to succeed in its blue economy. Capt. Sunny Umoren, the NIMASA chief, noted that an improved maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea is vital.
Four pirates in a speed boat, armed with guns, chased and boarded a bulk carrier which was underway. The incident happened on April 7, around 41nm South Southeast of Brass, Nigeria. The pirates fired upon and damaged the ship’s equipment and accommodation and before escaping, they stole ship’s cash and properties.
66 attacks against ships in Africa in the first quarter of 2018 highlight a surge in global levels of piracy and armed robbery at sea, according to the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau. Figures in Q1 2018 are up compared to 43 incidents for the same period in 2017, and 37 in Q1 2016.
The fishing vessel ‘Marine 711’ was en route to anchovies fishing grounds, with 40 crewmen onboard, when it was hijacked on March 26. The attackers released the vessel on 28 March, but took with them at least 5 hostages, including the captain, chief officer and chief engineer of Korean nationality, and two more men of Ghanaian and Greek nationalities.
Five pirates with guns attacked the product tanker ST Marseille at an anchorage off Cotonou, Benin. The pirates boarded the ship, and two guards were injured from gunshots. The product tanker did not have any cargo onboard when it was attacked, something that made the pirates to abort their attack and leave.
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