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Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea Region

2020 saw a significant increase in incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy reporting centre received 195 incident reports of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide in 2020, this compares to 162 in 2019.

This increase can be partly attributed to Incidents in the Gulf of Guinea that will only increase throughout the dry season.

Incidents in this area are particularly dangerous as over 80% of the attackers were heavily armed with guns and the perpetrators are known to use high levels of violence against shipboard personnel.

2020 also saw an extraordinary rise in the kidnapping of crew members. With 130 kidnapped in 22 incidents, this equates to 95% of crew kidnapped worldwide and held for ransom.

Of the vessels attacked in the region 25% involved crew kidnapping with ships up to 200 nautical miles from land attacked.

There have been several reported incidents in the Gulf of Guinea already in 2021 including the boarding of the M/V Mozart on the 23rd January during which one of the crew was sadly killed with 15 kidnapped.

For the protection of the crew and vessel it is of the utmost importance that owners, operators, and crew onboard follow –

  1. Company and ship specific procedures. The company should obtain the latest threat information from the relevant websites. Conduct thorough, ship-specific pre-voyage threat and risk assessments to identify appropriate Ship Protection Measures. Crew should be briefed on the necessary security arrangements identified in the Ship Security Plan (SSP). Drills should be conducted prior to arrival in an area of increased risk as identified through the risk assessment
  2. Advice in latest IMO circulars
  3. Procedures given in the latest edition of the Best Management Practice (BMP-WA) while transiting high risk areas. This provides the latest reporting procedures for vessels in this area.
  4. For the Gulf of Guinea, the Marine Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea, MDAT-GOG, voluntary registration and reporting scheme should always be followed in the areas covered by Admiralty chart Q6114 and French Navy Hydrographic SHOM Chart 8801CS. Ships are strongly encouraged to report daily when transiting or operating in in a Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) either by email or phone using the relevant Ship Position Reporting – Daily Position. Particularly vulnerable ships will be noted and monitored

The current Contact details are: -


Tel: +33(0)2 98 22 88 88

E-Mail: transiting the VRA

Ship Protection Measures (SPM)

Prior to any voyage that may enter a VRA and following the company Risk Assessment the company should consider how it will implement SPM’s

This should include a review and consideration of: -

  1. Additional lookouts to assist the watchkeepers
  2. Physical barriers to deter/prevent access onboard.
  3. Water spray and foam monitors, again to deter/prevent access onboard.
  4. Control of access to bridge, accommodation, and machinery spaces
  5. Enhanced bridge protection
  6. Safe Muster points and Citadels
  7. If transiting to an offshore terminal or STS rendezvous wait at a suitable position offshore and transit to the location rapidly.

Always report ALL actual, attempted, or suspicious piracy and armed robbery incidents occurring anywhere to the 24-hour manned IMB PRC. This is crucial in the response procedures as well as broadcasting the threat to ALL vessels in the area.