Crew Kidnappings Soar in West Africa

Crew kidnappings and violent attacks on vessels in the oil-rich West Africa region have soared in 2020, with 77 seafarers taken hostage or kidnapped for ransom since January, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest piracy report.

The Gulf of Guinea off West Africa is increasingly dangerous for commercial shipping, accounting for just over 90% of maritime kidnappings worldwide. Meanwhile, ship hijackings are at their lowest since 1993, the report said.

“Violence against crews is a growing risk in a workforce already under immense pressure,” says IMB Director Michael Howlett. “In the Gulf of Guinea attackers armed with knives and guns now target crews on every type of vessel. Everyone’s vulnerable.”

Just a fortnight ago, pirates attacked BW Offshore’s Sendje Berge FPSO offshore Nigeria, and kidnapped nine Nigerian nationals were kidnapped. Initial reports indicated that explosives were used during the attack.