Bourbon PSV Escapes Pirate Attack off Nigeria
In late February, the Bourbon Offshore PSV Bourbon Explorer 502 escaped an attempted pirate attack that bore remarkable similarity to the boarding and kidnapping that occurred off Nigeria on March 10.
On the morning of February 28, as the Bourbon Explorer 502 was operating about 30 nm southwest of Bonny Island in the Gulf of Guinea, she was approached by 16 armed pirates in two speedboats. In response, her bridge crew increased speed and started evasive maneuvers. All non-essential personnel mustered in the vessel's citadel.
The Explorer's security escort vessel intervened and chased off the pirates. The PSV sustained bullet damage to her bridge, but no injuries were reported. She returned to a safe port following the attack.
Less than two weeks later, an unnamed offshore vessel ran into the same situation, but its crew retreated to the engine room and turned off all power. They were not as lucky as the crew of the Bourbon Explorer 502.
At about 1115 hours on March 10, at a position about 25 nm away from the attack on the Explorer, armed pirates in two speed boats approached an unnamed OSV under way. The OSV's captain called for help from its naval escort security boat, which maneuvered to engage the attackers. The OSV's crew all gathered in the engine room and shut down all power.
One pirate speed boat began a firefight with the escort boat, killing one member of the boat's Nigerian Navy security detail. The pirates in the second speedboat boarded the vessel using a ladder. They vandalized the deckhouse, made their way into the engine room, kidnapped five men and escaped. The remaining crewmembers sailed the vessel under escort to a safe anchorage.
Nigeria forbids the use of embarked private maritime security contractors. Instead, it permits private contractors to provide for-hire Security Escort Vessel (SEV) services using civilian boats and armed Nigerian Navy active duty servicemembers.