Piracy attacks off Nigeria rise

Piracy attacks off West Africa over the past week have escalated, reaching extraordinarily dangerous proportions where bullets were fired at a moving LNG carrier.

Not for the first time, the BW Group-owned LNG Lokoja was attacked on Saturday morning while en route to Bonny in southern Nigeria. The vessel is understood to have come under attack from a single speedboat with 10 armed men onboard. The pirates are understood to have opened fire on the vessel. Security firm Dryad Global reported the gas carrier conducted evasive maneuvers causing the attack to fail.

In April 2017, the same 145,557 cu m ship came under fire after leaving the Bonny LNG terminal.

Other attacks in the region are also filtering through. The bulk carrier Vinalines Mighty was attacked at around 0130 this morning, 200 nautical miles southwest of Bonny. The ship managed to get away.

Following two failed attacks on the tanker Istanbul on December 24, two speedboats were seen heading towards a vessel believed to be acting as a mother-vessel. The mother-vessel was described as a chemical tanker with an orange / red hull.

Dryad Global in partnership with TankerTrackers.com have identified the Determination 2 as being the vessel suspected of providing support to deep offshore piracy operations.

“Whilst hostile intent has not been proven, all vessels are advised to conduct avoiding action,” Dryad stated in a note to clients.

The situation off West Africa – the world’s piracy hotspot for the last two years – has also seen multiple kidnappings in the last couple of months.

BIMCO advice for ships heading to the troubled area can be found at http://maritimeglobalsecurity.org.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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