Over the past five days, a total of 16 seafarers were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of West Africa, marking a continuation of rampant pirate activity in the region.

Pirate Attack in Gulf of Guinea

Ten mariners were kidnapped in an attack reported by Dryad on April 30, when pirates boarded Panama-flagged oil products tanker MT Vemahope some 178 nautical miles south-southeast of Lagos.

According to Dryad, the ship was attacked by a single speedboat with an unknown number of armed individuals on board. Four crew members remained onboard.

“If confirmed, this incident would be the 7th deep offshore incident within the Nigerian EEZ within 2020. Total incidents in West Africa have thus far tracked 2019 trends almost exactly with a partial fall of only 1 incident seen in 2020 compared incidents over the same time-frame in 2019,” Dryad said.

On May 3, pirates boarded two fishing trawlers identified as Amerger II & Amerger VII off Libreville, Gabon. One incident occurred at 20nm from shore and the second 36nm from shore.

“Reports suggest that the incident involved a single skiff with three engines and  13 persons on board,” Dryad said, adding that the perpetrators are likely to be from Nigeria.

“It is understood that following the boarding 6 personnel have been kidnapped, 3 from each vessel. The nationalities of those kidnapped are understood to be 3 Indonesian, 2 Senegalese, 1 South Korean.”

The maritime security firm added that with the latest incident the total number of kidnapped crew in West Africa within 2020 was 48.