• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Maritime security: Pirate attacks in Gulf of Guinea drop 18% in 2014 – reports

Increasing piracy attacks in Nigeria, others expected to push insurance costs

Despite the fact that the Gulf of Guinea witnessed about an 18 percent drop in the number of pirate attacks recorded within the region in 2014, the kidnapping of senior crew members increased by 75 per cent compared with recorded incidents in 2013, according to Dryad Maritime report.

The report noted that about 69 attacks were recorded while kidnappings rose to 14 from eight kidnapping incidents that took place in 2013. The majority of attacks were geared towards hostage-taking and cargo theft in Nigeria, and that the trend will likely continue in 2015.

“Victims will likely be released unharmed as long as shipping companies and owners negotiate with the criminal gangs and pay the ransoms demanded. While it is understandable that such ransoms are paid to secure the safe return of crew, such payments will encourage criminals to persist with this lucrative form of maritime crime,” the report said.

According to the report, the year saw 14 unsuccessful attacks that took place within the Nigerian exclusive economic zone (EEZ). “Effective defensive measures employed by crews and security teams meant that these 14 attacks were aborted and were not added to the already higher statistics for kidnap or cargo theft.”

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Also, incidents of successful product tanker cargo thefts also decreased to three from five in 2013, and seven in 2012. There were also five foiled cargo theft attempts on tankers. “Like the kidnap of crew for ransom, cargo theft is likely to remain on the menu of Nigeria-based criminal gangs in 2015. The criminal reach demonstrated with the hijack of MT Kerala, the number of successful and attempted attacks in 2014 and the lack of any evidence that such gangs have been neutralised, suggests that further attempts at cargo theft will take place in 2015 across the region.”

In a related development, a breakdown of pirate attacks and oil theft in West African region in 2014, as released by International Maritime Bureau (IMB), shows that 41 incidents were reported, although IMB says many further attacks went unreported. Five vessels were hijacked, including three tankers, one supply and a fishing vessel. Hijackings of product tankers appeared to subside in the last quarter of 2014, with the last reported case at the end of July 2014.

Out of the 18 attacks off Nigeria, 14 involved tankers and vessels were associated with the oil industry. Most were product tankers, hijacked to steal and transship their cargo into smaller tankers. Earlier in the year, the waters of South and West of the Brass Terminal saw a particularly concentration of spate of attacks.

For instance, a Nigerian attacked, said: “Two armed pirates boarded the tanker. As the crew retreated into the citadel, the onboard-armed team fired at the pirates. Most of the crew including the guards managed to retreat into the citadel. When the guards and crew emerged from the citadel they found the C/E killed and the 3/O injured.”

In and around Ghanaian waters, in June and July, three vessels were hijacked, one of which was a fishing vessel intended to be used as a platform to hijack tankers off Nigeria. Seven vessels were also boarded while anchored at Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo, with ship and crew properties targeted by the robbers.