2019-003-Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom
This revised advisory cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2018-011
1. Reference: U.S. Maritime Alert 2018-003A
2. Issue: Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom continue to be significant threats to U.S. flagged operators with vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
3. According to the Office of Naval Intelligence’s “Piracy Analysis and Warning” website (https://go.usa.gov/xUKAR), 146 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea occurred in the GoG region in 2018. This is a 24 percent increase from 2017 and the highest level we have recorded in the last ten years. Attacks, kidnappings for ransom (KFR), and boardings to steal valuables from the ships and crews are the most common types of incidents with the majority of incidents taking place off Nigeria. There were 32 kidnapping incidents in 2018, four of which involved crewmembers being taken from hijacked vessels when pirates disembarked. Six out of the ten hijacked vessels in 2018 were petroleum tankers likely being hijacked for cargo theft (refined petroleum products). There are no reports of tankers being hijacked in the region in 2017. U.S. flagged operators with ships operating in or through the GoG Voluntary Reporting Area designated on Maritime Security Chart Q6114 at http://www.shipping.nato.int/nsc/mediacentre/downloads/maritime-security-charts.aspx should transit with extreme caution and vigilance.
4. Most KFR operations in the GoG occur around the Niger Delta and target vessels (tankers, tugs, offshore supply vessels, and cargo vessels) with expatriate crew due to their potentially high ransom value. Motherships have been used to support KFR operations up to 150 nautical miles offshore. Criminals and armed KFR groups have been known to fire upon targeted vessels prior to attempting to board them. KFR groups generally kidnap two to six high value crewmembers to include the master, chief engineer, and any Western crewmembers. There were, however, several incidents over the past year where more than ten crewmembers were kidnapped during a boarding. Kidnapped crewmembers are normally taken ashore in the Niger Delta region where KFR groups demand ransom payments in exchange for the safe return of the crewmembers. In 2018, vessels were hijacked off Benin, Ghana, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.
5. Guidance: Mariners transiting the area should visit the NATO Shipping Centre website at: http://www.shipping.nato.int/nsc/operations/global-maritime-risk/west-africagulf-of-guinea.aspx for additional information on this threat and specific recommendations for their vessels. U.S. flag vessels anchoring, transiting or operating in this region must comply with their approved Vessel Security Plans.
6. Mariners operating near this area are also advised to consult the Department of State Travel Warnings for this area at: https://go.usa.gov/xUKs2.
7. Per 33 CFR 101.305, all suspicious activities and events must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
8. Contact Information: The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade-Gulf of Guinea (MDATGoG) is operated by the navies of France and the United Kingdom. This center receives reports, shares important updates, provides guidance on vessel operating patterns, and reviews security risks with the Gulf of Guinea maritime community. Note that MDAT-GoG does not coordinate responses to vessels under attack. MDAT-GoG can be contacted via email at: email@example.com or telephone at +33(0)2 98 22 88 88. For any questions about this advisory, contact GMCC@uscg.mil. Supplemental information may also be found on the MARAD Office of Maritime Security website at: https://go.usa.gov/xUKsb.
9. Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2018-011 and will automatically expire on July 18, 2019.
For more information about U.S. Maritime Alerts and Advisories, including subscription details, please visit http://www.marad.dot.gov/MSCI
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