Gulf of Guinea pirates kidnap crew of second Ghanaian fishing vessel
Hackers operating in the Gulf of Guinea appear to be expanding their reach, perhaps in response to increased patrols and planned strengthening of security by Nigerian authorities and others. For the second time in less than two weeks, a Ghanaian fishing boat was reportedly attacked and several of its crew were kidnapped.
Security authorities in the region are on alert for increased activity. The MDAT-GOG, the security cooperation effort between the British Royal Navy and the French Navy, warned on May 31 of the increased threat of piracy activity in the region near Ghana and Benin. They urged ships and crews to increase their vigilance.
“Trends over the past 18 months have indicated a widening of the piracy footprint in the Gulf of Guyana, beyond the traditional core of the Nigerian EEZ,” warned security analysts Dryad Global in its news report. update on the region.
In the latest incident, a commercial fishing vessel, the Iris S, operating from the Ghanaian port of Tema was reportedly arranged about 100 nautical miles south of Cotonou in Benin. The nearly 40-year-old 500-gross-tonnage ship had a crew of 36 on board, and being a slower ship would have been an easier target for pirates.
Media reports from Ghana said the Iris S left port on May 26 and that yesterday morning, while sailing in the water off Benin, he spotted an unidentified vessel near the horizon. About an hour after the first sighting, two skiffs approached the fishing boat, forcing it to stop and seven armed pirates boarded. In reports, the crew said they were unsure whether the vessel spotted on the horizon was acting as a mother ship for the skiffs.
The armed residents searched the ship, stealing the crew’s personal effects and equipment. They left the fishing boat after about an hour, taking away five crew members. The kidnapped individuals included the captain, the chief officer, the second chief engineering officer, all Korean nationals, as well as another engineer who was Filipino. The other 31 crew members were unharmed.
A Ghanaian navy patrol boat escorted the Iris S to port. Authorities were also notified of the kidnapping and there was hope that the pirates could be intercepted before they reached the Niger Delta where they were heading.
In the previous May 19 assault, pirates boarded the fishing vessel Atlantic Princess about 65 miles south of Tema. In this incident, they first took the vessel, but then left removing five crew members from the fishing vessel.
Dryad’s analysis shows that overall pirate incidents are down in the region so far in 2021 compared to a year ago. They reported that there had been a total of six incidents compared to 11 last year. The number of kidnapped crews, however, increased slightly to a total of 61 in 2021.
Nigerian authorities detailed in May their new initiative called Deep Blue which combines new resources with patrol boats, aerial reconnaissance and ground forces designed to protect the maritime community in the Nigerian EEZ as well as oil facilities on land. As these efforts increase, pirates may move further offshore in an attempt to avoid capture.