Six Crewmembers Abducted in West Africa as Piracy Attacks Increase

piracy in Gulf of Guinea
Pirates in speedboats attacked fishing boats and a cargo ship in Cameroon on June 30 (file photo)

Published Jul 3, 2023 1:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

After a relative calm, there were three piracy incidents in recent days in the Gulf of Guinea coming after security services had again issued a warning of increased danger in the region. In one of the incidents, six crewmembers have reportedly been kidnapped while in another there are reports of shots fired.

The joint UK-French monitoring operation Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) is confirming the incidents. They have issued alerts on three attacks between June 28 and July 1 with two in the same region near the port of Douala in Cameroon.

Security service EOS Risk Group reports the first incident on June 30 involved two Chinese registered fishing vessels, Hai Lu Feng 13 and Hai Lu Feng 14, that were transiting the Wouri River in tandem. The report states that they were approached by armed pirates in several speedboats. Members of the Cameroon military were said to be aboard the fishing vessels and engaged the pirates. The pirates reportedly attacked the fishing boats and in exchange of gunfire with the military one of the pirates was likely killed.

Approximately an hour later a Panama-registered general cargo ship was also reportedly attacked in the same area. The vessel, which EOS identifies as the Oya 1, was at anchor. MDAT-GoG confirms that several individuals boarded the cargo ship. Reports are saying that six crewmembers were abducted. The Cameroon military responded to calls for assistance and the vessel was escorted to the dock at Douala.

Ocean Express, based in Congo, reports that the vessel operates a coastal cargo service between the port of Luanda in Angola and Douala. The ship is 1,7-00 dwt and 210 feet in length. 

These two incidents in Cameroon came only two days after the crew of the Maersk Roubaix (13,800 dwt) reported that they have seen three boarders while the vessel was at the anchorage in Takoradi, Ghana. The vessel, registered in Hong Kong, is a smaller feeder maintaining local service in West Africa for the carrier. The crew sounded the alarm when they saw the intruders and they apparently were scared off. The ship reported that they escaped with stolen ship’s stores.

At the beginning of June, there was a similar incident off Guinea. Boarders broke into the ship’s safe stealing money and reportedly injured crewmembers during the attack.

All of this happened as the UN Security Council was meeting to discuss the recent increase in piracy in West Africa. They called on member nations to support the local authorities’ efforts to prevent the attacks.