Gulf of Guinea: Pirates Strike Again, Record 5th Attack Within 6 Days

Akanimo Sampson

Akanimo Sampson

A worrisome report by Dryad Global indicates that a Marshall Island flagged vessel, M/T LA BOHEME was on Tuesday night at 2036 UTC, attacked by two skiffs 95 nautical miles off Cotonou, Benin Republic.

With the development, the Gulf of Guinea has again recorded the fifth pirate attacks within six days.

On its website, Dryad Global boasts that the philosophy that works for it is, with perfect information there will be certainty of outcome. Risks would be known and your decisions would be straightforward.

‘’But we all have to work with imperfect information and need to make calculated assessments to guide our security and commercial decisions.

‘’In fast-moving security and information environment, it is essential to have a proven, consistent and resourced process to inform your decision-making. The information has to be timely, expertly analysed and presented in a way that clarifies, not mystifies, your options.

‘’The optimum operating space for your business is at your acceptable risk line; this is where companies thrive, and put them ahead of the competition. This is why we work with our customers to define their acceptable risk in order to drive the information requirement and recommendations’’, the global risk intelligence concern that guides commercial and operational decisions says.

The Gulf of Guinea is, however, the north-easternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean from Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian (zero degrees latitude and longitude) is in the gulf.

Among the many rivers that drain into the Gulf of Guinea are the Niger and the Volta. The coastline on the gulf includes the Bight of Benin and the Bight of Bonny.

The crew mustered in citadel whilst master and bridge team carried out evasive manoeuvring. The skiffs have aborted the attack. Vessel and crew are reported safe.

Incidents remain focused on the waters south of Cotonou and those of the Southern Niger Delta despite the prevalence of attacks within these areas, the threat remains fluid. It is apparent that two or more PAG’s are operating most likely with the intent of conducting kidnap for ransom operations.

Whilst the pirates retain both the capability and intent to target larger vessels, it is highly likely that smaller vessels presenting more opportune targets will become more desirable as time goes on and the risk to the perpetrators increases.

The perpetrators are likely to be aware that increased time at sea with both the Beninese and Nigerian Navies operating on high alert will significantly increase their own risk. As such it is highly likely that incidents will continue.

All vessels operating within the area are encouraged to operate at the highest levels of vigilance and deploy full hardening/mitigation measures where possible. The risk profile for the wider Gulf of Guinea region at this time is critical with attacks assessed as highly likely / expected daily.

Wikipedia says piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects a number of countries in West Africa as well as the wider international community. By 2011, it had become an issue of global concern. Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are often part of heavily armed criminal enterprises, who employ violent methods to steal oil cargo.

In 2012, the International Maritime Bureau, Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme reported that the number of vessels attacks by West African pirates had reached a world high, with 966 seafarers attacked during the year.

According to the Control Risks Group, pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea had by mid-November 2013 maintained a steady level of around 100 attempted hijackings in the year, a close second behind Southeast Asia.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern to the shipping industry, which is affected significantly. At the same time, governments in the region generally highlight that the fight against piracy requires a broad understanding of maritime security throughout the Gulf of Guinea.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe


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