Not less than 115 personnel have been kidnapped from different vessels in 22 incidents in the Gulf of Guinea(GoG) of which Nigeria is An integral part , from January to November 16 ,this year ,according to Dryad Global , an international maritime watch organization.
The member countries of the GoG are Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, São Tomé and Príncipe ,Congo DRC and Angola including Cabinda.
The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reported Centre also said in a report that the number of seafarers abducted by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea this year has surged as “well organized” pirates abduct bigger groups of seafarers further offshore and across all vessel types.
For instance , in the first nine months of 2020, the IMB reported a 40% uptick in the number of kidnappings reported in the region. Among the 85 seafarers kidnapped worldwide, 80 were taken in the Gulf of Guinea in 14 separate attacks reported off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.
The latest incident this month happened on Novmber 16 and involved a 1,700 dwt cargo vessel, identified as Am Delta , a registered in Ghana. According to Dryad, the vessel was boarded some 44 nautical miles south of Brass, Nigeria and five crew kidnapped
Another very recent hijacking took place on November 13, and involved the heavy lift ship, ZHEN HUA 7 , which the pirates boarded as it drifted approximately 78 nautical miles northwest of Sao Tome. The incident resulted in fourteen crew being kidnapped.
The ill-fated ship, Am Delta is operated by Ghana-based Adom Mbroso Water Transport, according to data provided by VesselsValue.
Reports indicate that Am Delta was boarded by six or seven pirates who took five seafarers as hostages. The kidnapped crew members are believed to be Ghanaian nationals.
Further reports indicate that the perpetrators have damaged the onboard communications and navigation equipment.
The vessel was left drifting with two crew onboard, Dryad added.
The latest incident made it the ninth, within November alone. Several days ago, pirates in the Gulf of Guinea attacked Chinese-owned heavy lift vessel, kidnapping fourteen crew member.
According to Dryard ,“This incident occurred closer to shore than the majority of incidents in 2020 which have thus far reflected the developed trend of incidents at the 80+nm range. It is within a high traffic area that saw a large cluster of incidents in both 2018 and 2019,” the maritime security intelligence company noted.
“Following a spate of unsuccessful attacks on vessels previously it is highly likely that the perpetrators sought to return to areas of known traffic density and opportunistic targets.”
“The boarding by armed perpetrators reinforces the critical risk rating in the Gulf of Guinea HRA after 7 incidents of unsuccessful approaches and attacks in the past week including two successful kidnappings in the last 4 days’’.