The recent kidnappings in the Sulu-Celebeses, were linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), an, allegedly, violent Islamic separatist group operating in the southern Philippines. ASG has been previously accused for piracy incidents, when abducted three crewmembers from Sulu-Celebes seas.
In addition to the reports, MARAD advises US flagged vessels to remain vigilant and adhere to the counter-piracy annex of their approved Vessel Security Plan when transiting the Sulu and Celebes Seas.
Moreover, ReCCAP recommends to all vessels to avoid anchoring outside port limit areas and to exercise enhanced vigilance, maintain strict look-outs, mostly during hours of darkness, and report all incidents to the relevant authorities immediately.
Seafarers that operate in or near these areas are advised to consult the Department of State Travel Warnings in getting information on piracy safety.
MARAD suggests that all suspicious activities and events have to be immediately reported to the US Coast Guard National Response Centre.
Moreover, concerning Gulf of Guinea incidents, MARAD reports a 24% increase from 2017 and the highest level we have recorded in the last ten years.
There were 32 kidnapping incidents in 2018, 4 of which involved crewmembers being taken from hijacked vessels when pirates disembarked.
6 out of the 10 hijacked vessels in 2018 were petroleum tankers likely being hijacked for cargo theft. Yet, there are no reports of tankers being hijacked in the region in 2017.
Also, the majority of KFR operations in the GoG take place around the Niger Delta and target vessels with expatriate crew due to their potentially high ransom value.
In conclusion, MARAD advises that seafarers voyaging through the area, should be informed by NATO Shipping Centre website and consult the Department of State Travel Warning.