West Africa piracy can be divided into 4 types
Original source: Soefartens Ledere (Danish Maritime Officers)
As the pirates' declining success in the waters off the Horn of Africa, the focus is increasingly on the often very violent piracy in the West African Gulf of Guinea. The West African piracy differs in many ways from what we know from Somalia, and can be roughly divided into 4 types.
By Jakob Wandel | 29 89 00 98 | email@example.com
According to Thomas Horn Hansen, London-based analyst at the maritime security firm Risk Intelligence and expert in West African piracy, the piracy in the Gulf of Guinea divides into four types:
1) Simple robbery / theft,
where armed pirates sneaking on board the ships, typically at night and steal what they can get their hands on and get away from the ship. If the pirates are discovered, they react typically by running away. This form of piracy is widespread in ports and anchorages throughout the region.
2) Armed robbery,
where well-armed groups go on board the ships and steal from the ship and its crew all the valueables they can get, whether it is possible to take away from the ship: cash, laptops, cell phones, etc. These pirates are known for a very high level of violence, and they will not run away if they are discovered. This form of piracy is concentrated out of Nigeria and partly Benin and Togo.
3) Kidnappings with ransom demands,
where well-armed pirates board and kidnap crew or part of the crew, typically the captain and chief engineer. These attacks are concentrated on the Niger Delta and up to 2012 seen at up to 45 nautical miles from the coast. In 2013, however, there has been a single attack carried out as far as 97 nautical miles from the coast.
This type of violence are committed by former militia groups, which now supports Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
The activity in this type of piracy comes in stages, depending on how active different criminal groups in the area. There is evidence that one or more groups in Bayelsa has been active since December 2012 and it is expected that the number of attempted kidnappings will increase in the Niger Delta in 2013.
This is due to several militia leaders, at lower levels, moving into organized crime in the region, and is expected to plunge into this type of piracy.
A relatively new development is that Nigerian pirates have recently used a hijacked tug to carry out new attacks on other ships, and thus has expanded its area of ??operations. It is not yet clear whether this approach will be a trend amongst these groups.
For pirates, this method carries a greater risk of being caught because in the longer-term it is harder to hide.
For companies it implies a significantly higher risk of crews whose local naval forces attempting to free those ships and captured crews with power. Read also: Nigerian presidential elections in 2015 could escalate piracy.
4) Tanker hijacking
where product tankers hijacked cargo, or parts of cargo are stolen and transferred to another vessel. This type of piracy carried out by well-organized, Nigeria-based, criminal groups. Tanker hijackings requires good organization and good relations, ensuring that on loading can be done at peace from any naval forces intervention.
Previously, these hijackings concentrated out of Nigeria, but to some extent has moved to the waters off Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast, as a result of such changed patrols.
Hijacking of product tankers rose sharply in 2011 and has had a continued high level in 2012, which is expected to continue in 2013.
Frequently, there is theft of diesel or petrol, on the way to Nigeria, Togo or Benin. Typically, 2000-3000 tons of cargo is stolen and ships released after an average of 5 days.
Profit levels from tanker hijackings is on average 2 million USD, which makes these hijackings very profitable for the pirates in relation to the short time hijackings items. Read also: Concern over West African piracy
West African piracy problem without solution
Oceanus live (2013)
Original source: Soefartens Ledere (Danish Maritime Officers)
Pirate situation in the Gulf of Guinea is becoming very serious, and even though the international community has become aware of the problems, it remains without a coordinated solution. Meanwhile, the threat from the West African pirates goes up costing both the region and shipowners - and gives the seafarers' legitimate concerns.By Jakob Wandel | 29 89 00 98 | firstname.lastname@example.org
On 9 September 2012, at approximately 18:35 Danish time, the Danish-flagged tanker, Torm Gertrud, was attacked by pirates off Lagos, Nigeria. Heavily armed pirates pursued the ship and fired their weapons to force it to stop. Captain of the tanker sounded the alarm, sped up, made evasive manoeuvres and sent all non-essential crew to safety in the ship's citadel. Pirates tried repeatedly to get on board, but had, as a result of the Captain's manoeuvres, eventually abandoned the hijacking attempt. No crew members were injured during the attack, but the ship bore clear marks from pirates' bullets. This violent attack on Torm Gertrud was just one of many pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in 2012, and, so far, all crews have managed to escape the heavily armed criminals.
In entirety, 63 tugs, supply vessels, cargo ships, tankers and container ships were, according to research firm Risk Intelligence, in 2012 attacked by pirates or criminals in West Africa with success. In addition, an unknown number of local trawlers and boats, of which attacks are rarely reported.
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has been a known problem since the 1970s, but the problem has developed since the turn of the millennium, where smaller vessels servicing the offshore industry in Nigeria, have had to live with this serious threat. With time, the pirates have become more aggressive and better armed and in 2011 there were 74 attacks on large merchant ships in the area from Senegal to Congo. Many attacks are not reported to the international authorities, which is why the volume is supposedly much larger. Tankers hijacked primarily for the pirates to steal the cargo and other property on board, while kidnappings of crew members from smaller vessels is primarily a problem in the Niger Delta. Hijacked tanker diverted from Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast and subsequently robbed of diesel or petrol reloaded to smaller, local tankers in an area explored Nigeria.
Cost to both the region and maritime is expensive
Piracy in West Africa has a very negative effect on legitimate maritime traffic in the region, including Togo, Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. It is reported, for example, that activities in Benin's main port city and the de facto capital, Cotonou, in 2012 was more than halved compared to the previous, as a result of piracy threat in the Gulf of Guinea. The cost of piracy is also expensive for shipping. It is assessed that the stolen cargo, insurance and security measures, including the use of armed guards, annually cost carriers in the region of $ 2 billion USD.
Budding international focus
The increasing number of reported pirate attacks in West Africa have finally got the issue on the international agenda. In November 2011 the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, set up a working group with the aim to investigate the problem. As a result, it was recognized that there is a need for comprehensive efforts across national borders, to combat piracy in the region, and that it will need additional, technical and logistical assistance from the international community. This realization has not yet resulted in any real, coordinated, international effort.