Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom (KFR) continues to serve as a significant threat to U.S. flagged operators with vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
According to the Office of Naval Intelligence’s “Shipping Threat Reports” website at https://www.oni.navy.mil/News/Shipping-Threat-Reports/, 97 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea occurred in the GoG region last year as of 22 Dec 2020. This is a 24
percent decrease in the total number of incidents from the same period in 2019, with the number of kidnappings and hijackings declining 16 percent. While boardings and attempted boardings to steal valuables from ships and crews are the most common types of incidents, almost a third of all incidents involve a hijacking and/or kidnapping. Approximately 51 percent of all incidents of
piracy and armed robbery are taking place off Nigeria, which is a decrease from the 71 percent in 2019 and indication pirates are traveling further to target vessels. In 2020, there were 27 kidnappings, three hijackings/kidnapping combinations, and two hijackings in the GoG. U.S. flagged operators with ships operating in or through the GoG Voluntary Reporting Area designated on Maritime Security
Chart Q6114 (chart info available at https://www.admiralty.co.uk/maritime-safety-information/security-related-information-tomariners) should transit with extreme caution and vigilance.
In 2020, pirates and armed robbers operated off nine countries in the Gulf of Guinea (Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, San Tome and Principe, and Gabon) targeting a variety of vessels to include tankers, container ships, general cargo vessels, fishing vessels, passenger vessels, and numerous vessels supporting oil drilling/production. Criminals/armed KFR groups have used motherships to support operations up to 200 nautical miles from shore. It is not uncommon for these groups to fire upon vessels during boardings and attempted boardings. KFR groups generally kidnap two to six high-value crewmembers to
include the master, chief engineer, and any Western crewmembers, but there were several incidents over the past couple of years where ten or more crewmembers were kidnapped at one time. Kidnapped crewmembers are normally taken ashore in the Niger Delta region where KFR groups demand ransom payments in exchange for the safe return of the crewmembers.
Guidance: Mariners transiting this area should visit the new Maritime Domain Awareness for
Trade-Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) website at https://gog-mdat.org (does not currently load in Internet Explorer browsers) and the NATO Shipping Centre website at https://shipping.nato.int/nsc/operations/global-maritime-risk/west-africa-gulf-of-guinea for additional information on threats and specific recommendations for their vessels. U.S. flag vessels anchoring, transiting, or operating in this region must comply with their approved Vessel Security Plans. Additionally, the recently issued “Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security Off the Coast of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea” (available under the Geography – Gulf of Guinea pull-down menu at https://www.maritimeglobalsecurity.org/ provides additional guidance and resources for operating in this area.
Mariners operating near this area are also advised to consult the Department of State Travel Advisories for this area at https://go.usa.gov/xUKs2.
All suspicious activities and events involving US vessels or persons must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 800-424-8802 in accordance with 33 CFR 101.305.
Contact Information: MDAT-GoG is operated by the navies of France and the United Kingdom. This center receives reports, shares important updates, provides guidance on vessel operating patterns, and reviews security risks with the Gulf of Guinea maritime community. Note that MDAT-GoG does not coordinate responses to vessels under attack. MDAT-GoG can be
contacted via email at email@example.com or telephone at +33(0)2 98 22 88 88. For any maritime industry questions about this advisory, contact GMCC@uscg.mil . Supplemental information may also be found on the MARAD Office of Maritime Security website at https://go.usa.gov/xUKsb.
Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2020-012 and will automatically expire on July 7, 2021.
For more information about U.S. Maritime Alerts and Advisories, including subscription details, please visit https://www.marad.dot.gov/MSCI.Status: Active