Category Archives: piracy

Gulf of Guinea: Russian anti-piracy drills

Brussels 13.10.2021 The Russian Northern Fleet task force deployed on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Guinea in the Eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean practised freeing a vessel simulating a situation of being seized by pirates, the Fleet’s press office reported on Wednesday, October 13.

“The crews of the large anti-submarine warfare ship Vice Admiral Kulakov, the medium sea tanker Academic Pashin and the rescue tug Altai held drills for freeing a notional vessel seized by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of the African continent,” the press office said in a statement.

Under the scenario of the drills, the pirates captured a tanker whose crew managed to hide in the vessel’s machinery compartment and send a distress signal. The Russian naval sailors successfully stormed the vessel and freed its crew. A Ka-27PS helicopter that took off from the deck of the anti-submarine warfare ship Vice Admiral Kulakov provided fire support for the drills from the air, the press office said in a statement.

Following the drills for releasing the captured vessel, the crew of the large anti-submarine warfare ship practiced firing a 100mm AK-100 artillery gun and a Kinzhal surface-to-air missile system against the target that simulated the pirates boat.

Gulf of Guinea pirate attacks

Brussels 26.04.2021 Two successive attacks on commercial vessels have just taken place in the Gulf of Guinea.
On Friday (April 23), a container ship was attacked 130 nautical miles northwest of the island of Sao Tome (1 ° 27 North and 4 ° 38 East). The pirates were able to board the Contship New, which was en route from Port Owendo in Gabon to Lomé, Togo.

A few hours later, Saturday (April 24), at 2:23 UTC, another attack took place in the same area (1 ° 52 North and 3 ° 17 East). The ship was secured “taken care of and escorted”, we are assured at Gulf of Guinea HQ in Brest (MDAT-GOG).

The Gulf of Guinea accounted for nearly half (43%) of all reported piracy incidents in the first three months of 2021, according to the latest figures from the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

IMB’s latest global piracy report records 38 incidents since the start of 2021 – compared with 47 incidents during the same period last year. In the first three months of 2021, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) reported 33 vessels boarded, two attempted attacks, two vessels fired upon, and one vessel hijacked.

Despite a drop in the number of reported piracy incidents for Q1 2021, violence against crew is on the rise in comparison to previous years. Since the start of 2021, 40 crew have been kidnapped compared to 22 crew in Q1 2020. A crew member was also killed in Q1 2021. .

EU measures against piracy

Brussels 25.01.2021 The Council today approved conclusions launching the first pilot case of the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) concept in the Gulf of Guinea.

The CMP mechanism aims to increase the EU’s capacity as a reliable partner and maritime security provider, offering greater European operational engagement, ensuring a permanent maritime presence and outreach in Maritime Areas of Interest as established by the Council, and promoting international cooperation and partnership at sea.

The conclusions establish the Gulf of Guinea as a Maritime Area of Interest and welcome the creation of the Maritime Area of Interest Coordination Cell. The pilot in the Gulf of Guinea will further enhance the EU’s coordination capacities in strategic maritime environments.

Today’s launch of the Gulf of Guinea pilot reinforces the EU’s efforts in the region, in line with the EU’s Gulf of Guinea Strategy. It will support efforts by the coastal states and the organisations of the Yaoundé Architecture to address increasing security challenges such as armed piracy and kidnapping for ransom, which undermine maritime security and good governance of the oceans.

Based on the results of the pilot case, the CMP concept may be used in other areas of EU interest.

The Council will ensure political control and provide strategic guidance on the implementation of the Gulf of Guinea pilot and will review its implementation in January 2022.

The CMP concept emerged following the Informal meeting of defence ministers of 28-29 August 2019 in Helsinki.

The Council then adopted conclusions on 17 June 2020, which reiterated the willingness to launch the pilot project in the Gulf of Guinea, in line with the revised EU Maritime Security Strategy and Action Plan.

The purpose of the CMP is to increase the EU’s capacity as a reliable partner and maritime security provider, provide greater European operational engagement, ensure a permanent maritime presence and outreach in Maritime Areas of Interest as established by the Council and promote international cooperation and partnership at sea.

Nigeria: three pirates convicted

Nigerian court has announced the first convictions under a new anti-piracy law, ensuring the world’s shipping fleets that legal reforms will normalise the situation in the Gulf of Guinea.

The three men fined by the court in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil hub, on August 11 were among nine accused of hijacking the tanker MV Elobey VI off Equatorial Guinea in March and securing a $200,000 ransom for the crew.

The merchant shipping industry has long demanded Nigeria to undertake strict measures in the area, which has been dubbed “pirate alley.”

It accounts for over 90% of maritime kidnappings globally, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), with attacks on all kind of vessels from oil platforms to fishing boats.

The court fined the three men convicted 10 million naira ($26,300) each for each of the two counts of piracy to which they pleaded guilty.

The remaining six pleaded not guilty and their trial continues.

Nigerian navy spokesman Commodore Suleiman Dahun (pictured) said the convictions were the first conviction under the new law, which passed last year to open legal way to prosecute pirates.

Commodore added that the fines were levied in lieu of prison sentences.

While the Gulf of Guinea is streched along more than a dozen West African countries, experts underline the pirates typically come from Nigeria’s oil-rich but poverty-stricken Delta region.

So far the assaillants rarely faced judicial consequences as piracy was not defined illegal under Nigerian law.

A total of 49 crew were kidnapped in the Gulf in the first half of this year, compared with 27 last year, according to IMB figures. It has aslo underlined that attackers were also more daring and going further out to sea than previous years.

Kidnapped Bulgarian capitan freed

Captain of a Portuguese-flagged cargo ship who was kidnapped along with seven other sailors by pirates off the coast of Benin last month, has been freed, Bulgaria’s foreign Ministry announced on May 25.

The Bulgarian captain of the container ship Tommi Ritscher, which was attacked at the port of Cotonou in the Gulf of Guinea on April 19, was already in an European country and would soon return to Bulgaria, the Ministry said in a statement.

The Ministry said it has been in close coordination with the ship’s owners but did not give other details. It’s unclear what whether the other seven sailors have been released.

Norway crew abducted in Benin

Nine crew members from Norway vessel have been abducted by pirates while anchored off the coast of the West African country of Benin. The Gulf of Guinea is notorious among maritime regions, plagued by piracy. (Image: illustration).

The sailors on a vessel Bonita owned by the Norwegian shipping company J.J. Ugland have been kidnapped by pirates while anchored 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) off shore from the port city of Cotonou on November 2.

In a statement published in Norway’s Dagens Naeringslivnewspaper on November 3, the company spokesperson said it would not disclose the crew’s nationalities, citing safety reasons.

“The Ugland Emergency Response Team are handling this situation as per contingency plans, and they are in contact with relevant authorities.

“The families of the crew members have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland,” the company
The remaining crew members was able to dock at port with its gypsum cargo the same day.

The Gulf of Guinea, which extends from Gabon to Liberia, has been infested by piracy practicing kidnapping in search for ransom.

Russian sailors abducted in Cameroon

The whereabouts of three Russian citizens from the crew of the vessel attacked in the Gulf of Guinea, close to Cameroon port of Douala on August 15, remain unknown,  the Foreign Ministry announced. (Image above: illustration).

“Based on the incoming information, on August 15, near the port of Douala (the Republic of Cameroon), unknown perpetrators attacked a cargo vessel “Marmalaita” belonging to the Danish company Ultrabulk, navigating under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda. According to the recruiting agency Marlow Navigation Russia, located in St. Petersburg, the attackers kidnapped eight members of the crew, among them three citizens of the Russian Federation,” the ministry informed.

According to the Russian Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroonian officials and representatives of the ship-owner company are currently investigating the incident. Russian diplomats actively cooperate with the governmental bodies in Cameroon and ship-owners in order to ensure the release of Russian citizens, the ministry added.

On August 15 the AFP agency reported, citing a Cameroon’s Navy source, that unknown perpetrators had abducted sailors from a vessel near the port of Douala. According to the source, “the kidnappers are probably Nigerian pirates.”

Gen.Stickland new Commander of Atalanta

The EU’s Political and Security Committee has appointed Major General Charlie Stickland, a high-ranking military official in the Royal Marines, as new Operation Commander of the Operation Atalanta. He will take up his duties on 7 November 2017.

The European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Operation Atalanta contributes to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. The operation is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach for a peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia.

 

The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Programme and other vulnerable shipping, monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region.

After the car bomb attack of 14 October 2017 in Mogadishu, Operation Atalanta, the EU Delegation in Somalia and the EU Training Mission in Somalia, provided support in particular to the United Nations to assist the victims.

The EU’s Political and Security Committee is composed of member states’ ambassadors based in Brussels.