2023-008-Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom
This revised advisory cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2023-001
1. Reference: None.
2. Issue: Piracy, Armed Robbery, and Kidnapping for Ransom (KFR) pose significant threats to U.S. flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) as well as U.S. mariners onboard a vessel or transiting to or from a vessel in the GoG.
3. Guidance: During the last six months, pirates, armed robbers, and KFR groups are known to have operated off Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and the Republic of the Congo. During this period, they targeted a variety of vessels to include tankers, container ships, general cargo vessels, and passenger vessels. These groups have boarded vessels up to 300 nautical miles from shore, and it is not uncommon for these groups to fire upon vessels during boardings and attempted boardings. KFR groups generally kidnap senior crew members, including the master and chief engineer, and any Western or foreign crew members. Kidnapped crew members are normally taken ashore in the Niger Delta region where KFR groups demand ransom payments in exchange for the safe return of the crew members. Details of incidents in the GoG can be found in the Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping reports, posted at https://www.oni.navy.mil/ONI-Reports/Shipping-Threat-Reports/Worldwide-Threat-to-Shipping/
Two kidnappings for ransom and one hijacking since January 2023 represent an increased threat to maritime security in the GoG. In March, six crewmembers were kidnapped from a Liberian-flagged tanker approximately 140 nautical miles off Pointe Noire, Republic of the Congo, and in May, three crewmembers were kidnapped from a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk vessel in Owendo Anchorage, Gabon. Both abducted crews were released safely, likely after ransom payments were made. These crews were held captive for almost 6 weeks and 3 weeks, respectively. In April, a Singapore-flagged bunkering tanker was hijacked approximately 300 nautical miles south of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The hijacked tanker and crew were released five days later, after the vessel’s cargo had been stolen.
Mariners transiting this area should visit the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade-Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) website at https://gog-mdat.org/home and the NATO Shipping Centre website at https://shipping.nato.int/nsc/operations/global-maritime-risk/west-africa-gulf-of-guinea for additional information on threats and specific recommendations for vessels. U.S. flagged vessels anchoring, transiting, or operating in this region must comply with their approved Vessel Security Plans. Additionally, the Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security Off the Coast of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea (available under the Geography – Gulf of Guinea pull-down menu at https://www.maritimeglobalsecurity.org/ provides additional guidance and resources for operating in this area.
U.S. flagged ships operating in or through the GoG Voluntary Reporting Area designated on Maritime Security Chart Q6114 (chart info available at https://www.admiralty.co.uk/maritime-safety-information/security-related-information-to-mariners) should transit with extreme caution and vigilance. Mariners operating near this area are also advised to consult the Department of State Travel Advisories for this area at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/.
All suspicious activities and events involving U.S. vessels or persons must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 800-424-8802 in accordance with 33 CFR 101.305.
4. Contact Information: MDAT-GoG is operated by the navies of France and the United Kingdom. This center receives reports, shares important updates, provides guidance on vessel operating patterns, and reviews security risks with the Gulf of Guinea maritime community. Note that MDAT-GoG does not coordinate responses to vessels under attack. MDAT-GoG can be contacted via email at email@example.com or telephone at +33(0)2 98 22 88 88. For any maritime industry questions about this advisory, contact GMCC@uscg.mil. Supplemental information may also be found on the MARAD Office of Maritime Security website at https://www.maritime.dot.gov/ports/office-security/office-maritime-security.
U.S. flag vessels operating in this area should consult Revision 8 to Maritime Security (MARSEC) Directive 104–6 (See paragraph 5 of U.S. Maritime Advisory 2023-007).
5. Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2023-001 and will automatically expire on December 29, 2023.
For more information about U.S. Maritime Alerts and Advisories, including subscription details, please visit https://www.maritime.dot.gov/msci/maritime-security-communications-industry-msci-web-portal.