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. .
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.
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.
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.”
All of the crew abducted by pirates from a container ship off the coast of Nigeria in October, including eight Polish nationals, are safe and will be reunited with their families, Poland Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“We would like to thank the shipowner, its co-workers and advisers for their professional handling of this difficult matter. We are grateful also to the Nigerian authorities,” the statement said.
The culprits targeted the MV Pomerenia Sky, a container ship owned by Midocean (IOM) Ltd and headed for the Nigerian port of Onne, in October.
Abductions are common in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. The Polish Foreign Ministry said it was the fifth abduction of Polish citizens there since 2013.
The EU’s and Cabo Verde meeting confirmed a common interest to strengthen and enhance their successful cooperation in the coming years, focusing in particular on issues like investment, growth, and jobs; migration and mobility, where both sides took stock of the progress made under their Mobility Partnership; or on ocean governance and the blue economy. The EU and Cabo Verde also agreed to pursue joint efforts regarding maritime security, in particular in the fight against drug trafficking, piracy, and against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, and close cooperation on the security of borders.
The Ministerial Meeting coincides with the visit of Cabo Verde’s President Jorge Carlos Fonseca to Brussels where he will meet Presidents Tusk, Juncker and Tajani. The visit of President Fonseca takes place in the context of the 10th anniversary of the EU-Cabo Verde Special Partnership.