West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea were the most dangerous locations for vessel crews in 2020, reports IMB
Violent attacks on crews and kidnapping were rife in the Gulf of Guinea region, according to the latest 2020 Annual IMB Piracy Report.
The Gulf of Guinea recorded the highest ever number of crew kidnapped in 2020 with 130 crew taken in 22 separate incidents. This compares to the previous high of 121 crew kidnapped in 2019 from 17 incidents.
The attackers appear to be well-organised and highly committed with attacks occurring up to 200 nautical miles from the shore, with the average in 2020 being 60 nautical miles from the coast.
Tanker operators are urged to take precautions as outlined in the joint organisation best practice manual: Best Management Practices to Enhance Maritime Security for Vessels & Mariners Operating Off the Coast of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea. This can be downloaded here.
Crew were kidnapped from 25% of vessels attacked by criminals in the Gulf of Guinea. In 80% of the Gulf of Guinea incidents, the attackers were armed with guns. Crew are taken ashore and held for periods of up to six weeks while ransoms are negotiated.
All types of vessels were attacked, but due to the crude oil and products trade lanes, tankers are often the target.
In November 2020, 2006-built, 36,800-dwt MR1 product tanker Agisilaos was boarded by an unknown number of people while underway resulting in the kidnap of four crew. In January 2021, US-listed tanker company Diamond S Shipping reported the four crew members who had been kidnapped from Agisilaos had been released and are all safe. Diamond S reported that due to the sensitive nature of the incident, it will provide no further updates on this matter.
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