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US ‘Red-flags’ Nigerian waters over serial piracy attacks

01 November 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The United States of America, through its Maritime Administration has published a Maritime Alert warning ships to be wary when approaching Nigerian waters.

According to the US Maritime Administration, the two recent incidences of pirate attacks in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is a confirmation of escalating insecurity around and on the waters of Nigeria.

It made reference to the attacks which occurred on October 21 and October 25, 2017.

“Two incidents have been reported in the Gulf of Guinea in the past six days; the first reportedly occurred south of Port Harcourt, Nigeria at 0600 GMT on October 21, 2017. The second reportedly occurred in the vicinity of 03-35.50N 006-49.20E at 1905 GMT on October 25, 2017; both incidents have been confirmed, the report recalled.

The nature of the first incident was piracy and kidnapping; the nature of the second incident was piracy”, the report noted.

Quoting the latest quarterly report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the US Maritime Administration stated that “the latest quarterly report from the International Maritime Bureau notes that a total of 20 reports of attacks against all vessel types were received from Nigeria, 16 of which occurred off the coast of Brass, Bonny and Bayelsa, it added.

Recalling more chilling incidences, the report added that: “Guns were reportedly used in 18 of the incidents and vessels were underway in 17 of 20 reports. Furthermore, 39 of the 49 crew members’ kidnappings globally occurred off Nigerian waters in seven separate incidents. Other crew kidnappings in 2017 have been reported 60 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria”.

“In general, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky, despite intervention in some cases by the Nigerian Navy. We advise vessels to be vigilant, it concluded.

The US advisory report to ship masters and owners further warned that ship transiting Nigerian waters to be cautious and seek further information, even as it stated that the alert subsists until November 2, 2017.

“Exercise caution when transiting this area. Additional information on threats and maritime security resources in the Gulf of Guinea are available in U.S. Maritime Advisory 2015-005

“This alert will automatically expire on November 2, 2017”, the statement warned.

It will be recalled that, in one of the attacks referred to by the US,six crew members, including the captain were kidnapped from a Liberian-flagged containership Demeter while the ship was sailing some 50 nautical miles south-west of Bonny, Nigeria.

Even though the attack happened about three weeks ago, there has been no report of the rescue or release of the kidnapped crew.

Source: Sweetcrude reports