Eight Tug Crewmembers Kidnapped Off Nigeria
On Wednesday morning, pirates boarded an unnamed "offshore tug" in the Gulf of Guinea and kidnapped eight crewmembers.
According to the ICC International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre, the Nigerian Navy responded to the incident but the attackers managed to escape with their captives. One crewmember was injured in the attack and was evacuated by helicopter.
It was the tenth serious incident in the Gulf of Guinea this year – and the second within an hour. About 45 minutes earlier and about 50 nm further offshore, nine pirates in a skiff approached a tanker and opened fire. The tanker's crew sounded the alarm, started the fire pumps and brought non-essential personnel into the citadel, while the bridge team put on more turns and conducted evasive maneuvers. The skiff aborted the attack.
Hijackings off Somalia and on the southeastern margin of the Sulu Sea have gained most of the attention on piracy in recent months, but the waters off the Niger River Delta are still a dangerous region for maritime kidnappings. The IMB warns that Gulf of Guinea pirates are often well armed, violent and capable, with the means to carry out attacks up to 170 nm off the coast. The most serious incidents involve multi-day hijackings, cargo theft, crew injuries and (increasingly) the abduction of seafarers for ransom. In the waters off Brass, Bonny Island and Port Harcourt – the area of Wednesday's incidents – the IMB warns that there has been "a noticeable increase in attacks / hijackings / kidnappings of crews." The center advises mariners to take additional precautions in these waters.