Two Pirate Attacks Thwarted off West Africa

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Published Jul 7, 2016 9:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

This past week, two serious piracy attacks off West Africa were thwarted, keeping two crews out of the hands of kidnappers in what some say is the most dangerous area for piracy in the world. 

On Thursday, the IMB Piracy Reporting Center published notice of an armed attack on a tanker underway in the Gulf of Guinea, about 90 nm southwest of Brass, Nigeria. Armed pirates boarded a tanker under way; the crew retreated into the vessel's citadel, then later came back out and "regained control of the vessel." No crewmembers were hurt and the vessel continued her voyage. The IMB did not specify the manner in which the attackers were repelled. 

Separately, on July 3, the IMB reported an attack on an anchored heavy lift vessel in Conakry, Guinea (within the Voluntary Reporting Area for piracy in West Africa, like the Gulf of Guinea). Six armed robbers boarded the ship and "attacked the duty O/S causing injuries," and took the second mate hostage. They reportedly proceeded to rob the crew of cash and belongings, then fled. 

The master alerted the port authorities through the ship's agent, but IMB reports that law enforcement responders did not arrive for another hour. 

A Boskalis spokesperson told Offshore Energy Today that the vessel in question was the heavy lift ship Teal, which has since departed Conakry. The report of an injury and a hostage-taking was erroneous, the spokesperson said. 

Advocacy group Oceans Beyond Piracy ranks the Gulf of Guinea among the most dangerous areas for piracy in the world, tallying some 32 kidnapping incidents on its waters in the year to date alone – nearly twice last year’s annual total.

Voluntary ship reporting in the piracy hotspot has recently changed: the two-year-old, Ghana-based Maritime Trade Information Sharing Center, Gulf of Guinea (MTISC-GoG) has closed, to be replaced by an online information service run remotely by French and British authorities. The closure comes three months after allegations that the MTISC-GoG may have released vessel security information to pirates – an allegation the center strenuously denied. 

“MTISC-GoG will close following the successful conclusion of the Pilot Project and France (FR) and the United Kingdom (UK) will commence a new virtual reporting centre, allowing the mission established by the MTISC to continue," said the Oil Companies International Marine Forum in a statement.