GULF OF GUINEA

China Says Five Sailors Kidnapped off Nigeria

Five Chinese sailors were abducted by pirates last week from a cargo ship in Nigerian waters, the Chinese foreign ministry said Monday.
“On July 2… a Singapore cargo ship was attacked by pirates in Nigerian waters and five Chinese sailors were kidnapped,” the foreign ministry in Beijing said, according to Defense Post.
“The Chinese embassy in Nigeria has activated its emergency mechanism, requesting for Nigeria to take effective measures to search for the Chinese personnel who were taken.”
Maritime security experts Dryad Global earlier said that the Singapore-owned Kota Budi cargo vessel was boarded by heavily armed men in the waters of Nigeria’s neighbor Benin.
The Gulf of Guinea, which includes the Nigerian coast, is among the world’s most dangerous waters as pirates regularly loot ships and kidnap sailors for ransom.
Dryad Global says 78 sailors have been kidnapped off the West African coast so far in 2020, a 26 percent increase on the figure from this time last year.
There was no official statements from the authorities in Nigeria or Benin on the incident…Defense Post reports..
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Piracy: Nigeria Hands Over Suspected Vessel, Crew to Ghana

*As NIMASA boss assures Gulf of Guinea no longer safe haven for pirates

The Nigerian Government has handed over the fishing vessel Marine 707 suspected to be carrying out illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea to the Ghanian authorities for further investigation and possible prosecution.

Nigeria also handed over 51 crew members including 48 Ghanians and 3 south Korea nationals to the Government of Ghana and Korea respectively.

The vessel which had authorization to fish in Ghana and Benin waters was arrested by the Nigerian Navy on the 18th of May, 2020 around the southwest of Lagos waters with her Automatic Identification System (AIS) switched off after being suspected to be used for piracy or being used as a mother ship to conduct piracy in the Gulf of Guinea was handed over to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) after preliminary investigations by the Navy.

In a statement by the Head of Corporate Communications of NIMASA, Mr Phillip Kyanet, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, while speaking during the official hand over of the Ghanian flagged vessel and the crew to the respective authorities, said that the Navy, NIMASA partnership which is now hinged on intelligence has put Nigeria on a pedestal of winning the war against piracy and other illegal acts at sea.

Jamoh who was represented by the agency’s commander, Maritime Guard Command Commodore Aniete Ibok disclosed that though preliminary investigations could not establish that the Vessel and her crew were directly linked to piracy, however the vessel still ran foul of international laws for shutting down its Automatic Identification System (AIS) 36 times in the last 6 months, 3 of which were done in the Nigerian waters.

According to him “we are handing over this vessel to the Ghanian authorities in the spirit of bilateral cooperation both countries enjoy. We have done our preliminary investigations and we are yet to establish any concrete evidence against the vessel but again, we would not know what she would be doing whenever she turns off her AIS which occurred 36 times without being logged in her record book in line with international protocols and three of these were in our domain. However in the spirit of brotherhood that Ghana and Nigeria enjoys we are handing over the vessel to Ghana for further investigations”

The NIMASA DG further warned that individuals or organizations thinking of perpetuating any form of illegalities in the Gulf of Guinea should be ready to face the full wrath of the law with the Antipiracy law in place along with the NAVY, NIMASA partnership that is waxing stronger with major focus on security in the Nigerian maritime domain and the entire Gulf of Guinea.

“we will not condone any act of illegalities in our maritime space, we have improved our intelligence sharing with relevant Agencies and with what we are doing now in no distant time piracy will be a thing of the past in the Gulf of Guinea because we have a robust antipiracy law that will deal with perpetrators of illegalities in our waters”

While receiving the vessel and the crew on behalf of the Ghana Maritime Authority, the Second Secretary Consular of Ghana in Nigeria, David Ako sowah commended the Nigerian authorities for being professional in handling the case. He said what Nigeria is doing is for the benefit of the entire countries in the Gulf Guinea.

In his words “As the big brother in this region, Nigeria has done well in showing a lot of maturity in handling this case and I want to assure you that Ghana would also look into more collaborations in Nigeria to ensure that the Gulf of Guinea remains safe for maritime activities”.

Equally speaking during the hand over, the Consular General of the Republic of Korea in Nigeria Kim Ln-taek, commended the party involved in handling the case. He said his findings from the Captain of the Ship who is a Korean informs that the AIS was bad. He noted that the vessel and her crew erred by not following the protocols of logging it in the record books when the AIS was down but he was happy that the case has been resolved up till this point.

The Ghana flagged vessel with International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) number 7419755 and registration number 316880 is owned and operated by World Marine Company Limited, Japan and as at the time of arrest it had 51 crew on board with all being Ghanians except 3 who are from the Republic of Korea.

This case also brings to the fore the efforts of NIMASA and NAVY in the battle against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. It would be recalled that the Navy recently arrested 10 pirates on a Chinese fishing vessel and handed them over for prosecution under the newly signed anti-piracy law.
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Pirates Board Two Ships, Kidnap Seafarers in Gulf of Guinea

WMN..Two new pirate attacks that resulted in the kidnapping of seafarers have been reported in the Gulf of Guinea. It appears that both incidents could be related.
On 9 May, around 0200hrs UTC, the cargo vessel Rio Mitong was approached by a single speedboat with an unknown number of perpetrators within the Malabo anchorage area, Equatorial Guinea, Dryad Global and Praesidium International said in separate statements.
The perpetrators used a ladder to board the Comoros-flagged multipurpose ship and managed to kidnap two of the vessel’s crew members, allegedly one Russian and one Ukrainian national.
The kidnappers left the area and proceeded towards Cameroon. The remaining crew members are understood to be safe.
The 8,900 dwt Rio Mitong is operated by Panama-based Glomar Supplies, VesselsValue’s data shows. The 122.4-metre-long MPP had arrived in Malabo from Abidjan last year in support of the Ounta Europa LNG project and since then remain within the anchorage area, occasionally reaching the berth.
“Based on available records, this would be the first piracy incident with successful kidnap ever recorded in the Malabo anchorage area,” according to Praesidium International.
Another vessel was attacked within the Luba anchorage on the same night. The ship in question is research/survey vessel Djibloho, managed by Equatorial Guinea Marina Malabo.
The Equatorial Guinea-flagged vessel Djibloho was boarded by a group of unknown men. Unconfirmed reports indicate that two Russian personnel may have been abducted as a result.
Local authorities have launched investigations into both incidents.
“As per available information, it appears that the Luba and Malabo incidents could be connected and originate from matters that have little to share with Gulf of Guinea piracy. As per Malabo, Luba port has seen no piracy activity over the years,” Praesidium International said.
“Deeper investigation shows that at least one of the two vessels has ties to Lithuanian businessman Vladimir Stefanov and some possible softer links have also emerged between the two vessels which could likely indicate that there is more to it that a mere piracy attack.”
“If confirmed this latest incident would bring the total number of persons kidnapped in maritime crime incidents throughout the region to 52,” Dryad Global noted.
“Whilst the trend of incidents within West Africa is showing a gradual decline, there is an upward trend in severity of incidents notably those involving kidnap for ransom.”…reports World Maritime News.

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16 Mariners Kidnapped in Five Days off West Africa

*GAC testing delivery of supplies to vessels via drones

WMN…Over the past five days, a total of 16 seafarers were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of West Africa, marking a continuation of rampant pirate activity in the region.
Ten mariners were kidnapped in an attack reported by Dryad on April 30, when pirates boarded Panama-flagged oil products tanker MT Vemahope some 178 nautical miles south-southeast of Lagos.
According to Dryad, the ship was attacked by a single speedboat with an unknown number of armed individuals on board. Four crew members remained onboard.
“If confirmed, this incident would be the 7th deep offshore incident within the Nigerian EEZ within 2020. Total incidents in West Africa have thus far tracked 2019 trends almost exactly with a partial fall of only 1 incident seen in 2020 compared incidents over the same time-frame in 2019,” Dryad said.
On May 3, pirates boarded two fishing trawlers identified as Amerger II & Amerger VII off Libreville, Gabon. One incident occurred at 20nm from shore and the second 36nm from shore.
“Reports suggest that the incident involved a single skiff with three engines and 13 persons on board,” Dryad said, adding that the perpetrators are likely to be from Nigeria.
“It is understood that following the boarding 6 personnel have been kidnapped, 3 from each vessel. The nationalities of those kidnapped are understood to be 3 Indonesian, 2 Senegalese, 1 South Korean.”
The maritime security firm added that with the latest incident the total number of kidnapped crew in West Africa within 2020 was 48….reports World Maritime News..
Meanwhile, Gulf Agency Company (GAC) has partnered with Singapore-based start-up F-drones to develop large-scale drones that can deliver up to 100kg of supplies over 100km to vessels and offshore platforms.
The international ship agency said that testing was underway on F-drones’ 3rd prototype that is capable of handling items up to 5kg over 50km.
Employment of drones in the supply of spare parts and supplies is expected to bring numerous benefits, especially with respect to cutting costs, saving time and increasing efficiency of the process.
Furthermore, since F-drones employs fully electric drones, the environmental footprint of the supply process would also be improved, GAC said.
At a time when social distancing as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is at the top of the agenda for many, delivery by drone can also help reduce social contact.
“Joining forces with F-drones is part of GAC’s drive to embrace technology to develop new ways to meet the demands of the maritime industry we serve,” says Lars Bergström, GAC Group Vice President, Asia Pacific & Indian Subcontinent.
“When fully commercialised, drones can be an attractive alternative to launches and helicopters for delivering supplies to vessels, especially for on-demand deliveries.”
GAC said that its Singapore office will be supporting F-drones in a test flight to deliver packages to vessels in the near future.
F-drones has received Singapore’s first Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) drone delivery permit and is now scaling up commercial delivery with an off-the-shelf drone.
“We are working towards launching our first commercial drone flight of our proprietary drone which can fly 10 times further later this year,” says Nicolas Ang, Co-founder & CEO of F-drones.
“The support of GAC and all our partners is vital in helping us make this happen.”
Besides GAC, F-drones counts Eastern Pacific Shipping, the Schulte Group, Techstars, Port XL, Entrepreneur First and Hafnia among its supporters….reports World Maritime News.

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Navy, NIMASA Set to Improve Information Sharing on Maritime Security

…C4i, falcon eye connection imminent

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigeria Navy are set for a regime of improved information sharing as arrangements to integrate the Command, Control, Computer Communication and Information Centre, otherwise known as the C4i Centre of the Deep Blue Project along with the Falcon Eye of the Nigerian Navy are ongoing.

This was made known when the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Bamidele Daji led a team of senior officers from the command on a working visit to NIMASA.

The Director General of NIMASA Dr. Bashir Jamoh, while stating the importance of cooperation between the Navy and NIMASA said that both agencies have mandates that are interwoven adding that since NIMASA is not an arm bearing organization it was important for it to support the Navy with necessary platforms for it to be able to optimally safeguard Nigerian Waters.

According to Jamoh, “Just like we did by ensuring that our Special Mission Vessels are manned by men of the Nigerian Navy, we are also looking at the possibility of effectively linking the C4i center at kikiriki with the Falcon Eye of the Nigerian Navy. This is to ensure safety of lives and property for safer shipping in the Nigerian maritime domain so that the maritime industry remains virile for economic prosperity”

Dr. Jamoh according to a statement issue dby the Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Phillip Kyanet, also disclosed that the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, GMDSS, facility at Takwa Bay will become functional very soon and the facility will also enhance intelligence gathering and information sharing with the Nigerian Navy, which has also approved the establishment of a Naval formation at Takwa Bay.

Speaking on other challenges in the maritime corridor from Navy town to the Harbor in Apapa Lagos, the NIMASA DG noted that activities of unapproved ship scrapping yards are a source of concern and all identified wrecks will be removed working with the hydrography department of the Nigerian Navy.

The NIMASA DG also warned that those involved in these nefarious acts would be made to face the full wrath of the law if they fail to desist from indiscriminate scrapping of vessels and the likes.

“We are aware of the challenges wrecks, derelicts and activities of illegal scrap yards pose to our waterways. We will share information with the hydrography department of the Nigerian Navy, so appropriate steps which will be in the best interest of the country will be implemented”, he said.

On his part, the FOC Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Daji applauded the already existing relationship between the Agency and the Nigerian Navy and stated the need for continuous information sharing between the Navy and NIMASA in order to aid daily operations towards ensuring a safer and secured maritime sector.

He also corroborated the stance of the DG on zero tolerance for piracy on the nation’s waterways, stating that the Navy is prepared to tackle the issues head-on, for the overall good of the maritime sector.

Rear Admiral Daji appealed for cooperation with the NIMASA hydrography unit especially with regards to standard charting of the Nigerian waters as well as mapping out the wrecks. He said this would go a long way in ensuring unhindered navigation.

It may be recalled that at the inception of this administration, the DG, Dr. Jamoh and his Management team introduced a three point agenda hinged on Maritime Safety, Security and Shipping Development to achieve the mandates of NIMASA towards sustaining a robust maritime sector.

Present during the visit were the Executive Directors of the Agency and very senior officers of the Western Naval Command who accompanied the FOC, West on the visit.

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Pirates Attack 37 Ships, Kidnap 22 Seafarers in Q1

A total of 37 ships were attacked by pirates with 22 seafarers kidnapped in the first quarter of this year, the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IBM) has reported.
According to the Bureau, it received a total of 47 attacks in the first quarter with the Gulf of Guinea remaining the world’s piracy hot spot.
However, as many incidents remain unreported seafarers are advised to remain vigilant at all times.
World Maritime News (WMN) reports that In total, IMB’s 24-hour Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 21 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in the first three months of this year.
Of these, 12 were on vessels underway at an average of 70 nautical miles off the coast.
Armed perpetrators are targeting all vessel types. They approach in speedboats, boarding ships in order to steal stores or cargo and abduct crewmembers to demand a ransom.
Seventeen crew were kidnapped in three incidents in the GoG waters, at distances of between 45 and 75 nautical miles from the coast.
While ten vessels were fired upon worldwide for the whole of 2019, four already reported being fired at within Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the first quarter of 2020.
This includes a container ship underway around 130 nm southwest of Brass. In another incident around 102 nm northwest of Sao Tome Island, another container ship was boarded by pirates. The crew retreated into the citadel and raised the alarm.
On receiving the alert, the IMB PRC liaised with Regional Authorities and the vessel operator until the vessel was safe and the crew had emerged from the citadel.
“Navy patrols, onboard security measures, cooperation and transparent information exchange between authorities, are all factors which help address the crimes of piracy and armed robbery,” said IMB Director Michael Howlett.
“The threat to crew is, however, still real – whether from violent gangs, or opportunistic armed thieves inadvertently coming face-to-face with the crew. Ships’ masters must continue to follow industry best practice diligently and maintain watches. Early detection of an approaching pirate skiff is often key to avoiding an attack.”
The piracy report shows zero hijackings in the last two quarters and no incidents around Somalia.
In Indonesia, five anchored vessels were reported boarded, and five ships were boarded while underway in the Singapore Straits.
These were predominantly low-level armed robbery attacks, reported World Maritime News.

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Ten Seafarers Kidnapped from Tanker off Cotonou

WMN.. Ten crew members have been kidnapped from a crude oil tanker off Cotonou, Benin, Dryad Global said.
The incident occurred some 76 nautical miles southwest of Cotonou on February 20, 2020.
At the time of the attack, the ship — identified as the 78,928 cbm Alpine Penelope — was en route to Lagos, Nigeria, from Ijmuiden, the Netherlands. It was crewed by 24 people consisting of Georgian, Filipino and Ukrainian nationals.
The Liberia-flagged LR1 tanker is operated by Greek shipping company Oceangold Tankers, data provided by VesselsValue shows.
The officer on watch reportedly identified two armed men on board. However, no further details regarding the nature of weapons or actions have since been received.
It is understood that an alert was sent by the tanker, after which communications were lost, according to Dryad.
“This is the 7th incident to occur in the waters off Cotonou since Jan 2019. Of those, 5 have resulted in illegal boarding’s offshore, two of which resulted in kidnappings of crew,” Dryad informed.
Today’s attack occurred only 11 nautical miles west from an illegal boarding event on January 19, 2020. In this incident, the container ship Atlantic Discoverer was illegally boarded by two unknown persons with five persons identified as being alongside in a skiff.
Within 2019, the waters off Lomé and Cotonou witnessed an increase in both the volume and severity of maritime crime incidents…reports World Maritime News.

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Naval Guard Onboard Fight Back as Pirates Attack Container Vessel in Bayelsa

A group of armed men fired upon a containership underway some 19 nautical miles South West of Bayelsa, Nigeria, on Tuesday, January 21.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre said that around 15 armed persons chased the vessel in a speed boat before opening fire upon the ship.
The crew raised the alarm and the non-essential crew took shelter in the ship’s citadel.

“The vessel increased speed and the armed naval guard onboard returned fire, resulting in the skiff aborting the attack and moving away,” the piracy reporting centre added.
Both the vessel and its crew are reported to be safe.
The IMB did not reveal the name of the ship, however, AIS data points to MSC Grace being targeted by the pirates. MSC is yet to confirm the attack to World Maritime News.
The incident is the likely harbinger of the continuation of the piracy upsurge in the Gulf of Guinea.
The number of crew kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea increased by more than 50% from 78 in 2018 to 121 in 2019.
This equates to over 90% of global kidnappings reported at sea with 64 crew members kidnapped across six separate incidents in the last quarter of 2019 alone.
The region accounted for 64 incidents including all four vessel hijackings that occurred in 2019, as well as 10 out of 11 vessels that reported coming under fire, data from IMB indicates, reports World Maritime News.

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Pirates Kill Four Naval Personnel, Kidnap Three in Attack on Dredger off Nigeria

Four Nigerian Navy ratings have been killed and two others injured following a pirate attack on dredger off the coast of Nigeria.
The pirates with heavy gunfire also kidnapped three crew members of the dredger.
The attack according to Dryad Global reports occurred on January 2 on the hopper dredger Ambika, which was located three nautical miles from the Ramos River, close to the Forcados oil terminal.
The four naval personnel had lost their lives fighting the pirates who were reported to have been armed to the teeth with superior firearms.

The 2,153 GT Ambika was attacked when operating some three nautical miles from the mouth of the Ramos River and nine nautical miles east of the Forcados Terminal in Nigeria, according to information provided by Dryad Global.
There was a heavy exchange of fire between the embarked security personnel on the Ambika and the pirates in which four security guards were killed and two injured.
After the firefight, the pirates boarded the 1979-built vessel and kidnapped three crew members, leaving behind five sailors. Two abducted men are Russians and one Indian, the maritime security company further said.
As informed, this is the first offshore incident within this location since November 2018 when a vessel was fired upon.
The 83.5-meter-long dredger, previously known as Galilei 2000 and owned by Jan de Nul, is now owned by a Lagos-based gas development company with operations upriver from the Ramos River entrance…additional reports from World Maritime News.

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Pirates Kidnap 8 Sailors from Greek Tanker off Cameroon

WMN..Armed pirates abducted eight crew members of the Greek-flagged tanker Happy Lady while the vessel was anchored around 2 nautical miles off the port of Limboh, in Cameroon, the Hellenic Coast Guard said on December 31.
The kidnapped crew members include five Greek nationals, two Filipinos and one Ukrainian sailor. As informed, one Greek national was injured in the incident, however, the extent of his injuries was not disclosed.
There were 28 crew members on board the tanker when the incident took place.
The Greek Coast Guard said that relevant authorities have been informed of the incident and that activities were underway to monitor the situation.
The MR2 chemical/product tanker was built in 2013 and is owned by Greek company Eastern Mediterranean Maritime.
The latest incident in the Gulf of Guinea comes just a week after 2 personnel were taken from a container vessel Renovation at the Douala anchorage on Dec 22, 2019.
According to the data from Dryad Global, the latest attack brings the total number of the kidnapped crew within the Gulf of Guinea in December alone to 57.
“The rapid increase in incidents is believed to be perpetuated in part by a confluence of factors including favorable conditions and reinforced successes. Lengthy turn around times at terminal locations present considerable security challenges for vessels seeking to reduce exposure to the risk of incident. In addition to this, a lack of coherent and coordinated security response means that pirates are able to operate between national maritime boundaries without restriction,” the maritime security company commented.
“It is assessed that there are multiple PAG’s operating throughout the region, with a high degree of efficiency and confidence. This latest incident was 144nm east from an attack on a container vessel south of Bonny on the 30 Dec 19 during which the attack failed as a result of an embarked security team. Whilst a significant distance away, it is a realistic possibility that the latest attack was perpetrated by the same PAG seeking to target vessels operating in an area with less security infrastructure and subsequently increased opportunity.”..reports World Maritime News.

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