Shipping has been warned active criminal syndicates are trawling the seas off West Africa looking for easy ransom targets.
Two tankers were approached by pirates when transiting the region on Saturday, with one of the vessels boarded.
According to reports by maritime safety consultancy Dryad Global, the 2010-built 50,000 dwt MR tanker Torm Alexandra was boarded by pirates whilst it was in transit from Lome.
With a further failed attempt it is highly likely that the perpetrators will increase in desperation in their attempts to secure their objective
It is understood that anti-piracy drills were executed early and all crew are safe, having reached the citadel. The pirates eventually left the ship with no further details of the incident reported.
On the same day, the 1995-built 15,000 dwt chemical tanker Wesley was approached by a speed boat with seven armed pirates while it was sailing southeast of Lagos.
The master undertook all security measures and the crew retreated to the citadel. The armed guards onboard displayed their weapons and fired three shots at the speed boat which resulted in the pirates aborting their pursuit and heading away. The vessel and crew are reported safe and the tanker is continuing to its next port of call.
Wesley is operated by UK company Union Maritime and Torm Alexandra is operated by Danish company Torm.
“With a further failed attempt it is highly likely that the perpetrators will increase in desperation in their attempts to secure their objective which remains most likely the kidnapping of crew for ransom. As such the risk profile for the region is to be considered critical at this time with incidents assessed as highly likely / expected within days,” Dryad Global warned.
Ambrey, another security consultant, discussed the heightened threat warning in the region in a note to clients last week in which it warned there are two active criminal syndicates operating, one in the Bight of Benin and the other to the south of Bayelsa state in Nigeria.