In the latest report by International Maritime Bureau (IMB) on piracy incidents, 156 incidents were globally reported in the first nine months of 2018. The Gulf of Guinea alone accounts for 57 of the 156 reported incidents. Most of these incidents have been reported in and around Nigeria (41), but there has also been a noticeable increase in the number of vessels boarded at the Takoradi anchorage, in Ghana.
On 22 September, 12 crew members of the Swiss bulk carrier Glarus were kidnapped 45 nm south west of Bonny Island, off the coast of the Niger Delta. The vessel carrying wheat was travelling between Lagos and Port Harcourt when it was boarded by pirates, who took 12 away of the 19 crew members.
On 28 October pirates managed to board the container ship Pomerania Sky, which was heading to the Nigerian port of Onne. According to the vessel’s management company, the pirates abducted 11 members of the crew, while nine others remained on board.
On 6 November, a group of nine pirates attacked a tanker transporting liquefied natural gas (LNG), again about 30 nm southwest of Bonny Island. The pirates chased the tanker and opened fire without managing to get closer thanks to a manoeuvre of the tanker’s crew. The International Chamber of Commerce of the IMB reported that the tanker was unharmed and that the crew was unharmed. LNG tankers are commonly made of double-walled tanks, thus resistant to small arms attacks. Another incident was reported on 11 November, around 10 nautical miles off the mouth of the Niger River, where a vessel was attacked by eight armed men with covered faces on a small motorboat. Nevertheless, the hijacking was prevented.
The Gulf of Guinea is vulnerable to pirates who perform kidnappings in hope of ransoms. A number of foreigners have been kidnapped in the last few years in the southern Niger Delta region, source of most of the crude oil which is the mainstay of West Africa’s biggest economy.