BW FPSO targeted with explosives in ‘unique’ Nigerian attack

Security consultancies say militants likely behind raid on vessel, with kidnappings unconfirmed.

A BW Offshore FPSO has been raided by gunmen who kidnapped nine crew on Thursday in what security consultancies are calling a “unique” attack.

Reports have said the 50,000-barrel-per day FSPO Sendje Berge (built 1974) was targeted by an unknown number of armed men in the early hours, 30 miles south west of Bonny Island.

BW Offshore said the vessel was “subject to an attack by pirates” in which the Nigerian nationals were abducted.

“The incident onboard the FPSO has ended and none of those remaining onboard have suffered physical injuries,” it added.

“BW Offshore is cooperating with local authorities, represented on site by the Nigerian Navy.”

Sendje Berge is situated on the Okwori field in Nigeria on contract to Addax Petroleum.

Initial reports indicated that up to 11 personnel may have been kidnapped from the vessel.

The security consultancy called the attack “unique” in terms of offshore incidents in Nigerian waters.

Level of weaponry beyond pirates?

“Both the manner of attack and target are beyond the usual targeting and attack methodology of pirate action groups within Nigeria. Reports indicated that explosives were used during the attack,” the firm said.

“Whilst unable to be verified, the use of such weapons (particularly grenades and RPG’s) has thus far not been seen in wider piracy reporting in West Africa.”

Another security consultancy, Risk Intelligence, said the vessel was in lockdown.

The outfit called the raid “well-coordinated”, with two speedboats attacking separately so that one was able to draw a security vessel away from the FPSO.

“That’s not typical piracy modus operandi and from the limited information we have so far. This looks much more like some militant group making a statement,” Risk Intelligence added.

Militants restless

Within recent weeks, a number of militant groupings within the Niger Delta have released statements condemning the actions of the federal government in refusing to sack officials they believe are corrupt.

A group operating under the auspices of the Coalition of the Niger Delta Agitators has publicly withdrawn a ceasefire it had previously negotiated with the state.

The kidnap of foreign personnel by groups involved in militancy is not unusual for the Niger Delta, but is less common in the offshore domain.

“It remains highly likely that personnel will be held for ransom. However if confirmed as an act of militancy, negotiations are likely to also focus on political concessions tied into both the release of personnel and cessation of activity,” security consultancy said.

The latest attack brings the total number of kidnapped personal in maritime incidents within West Africa to 72 in 2020.

Kidnap reporting within 2020 is currently tracking at 51% higher that that of 2019 across the same time period.

Protection lacking?

The attack would be significant for all oil companies, Risk Intelligence said, but its importance should not be overestimated either.

The Okwori field has been attacked in the past during the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) insurgency between 2006 and 2010.

“While security procedures have been improved since, the field is relatively close to the coastline and protection was not on the same level as for the bigger fields in the vicinity,” Risk Intelligence added.

“This field one only had one security vessel present which is merely a repurposed offshore tug. The bigger fields usually have two security vessels circling around the facilities and those are more likely to be purpose-built security vessels.”


Attempted robbery on container ship anchored off Manila

In its weekly report for 23-29 June, ReCAAP ISC informed of one incident of armed robbery against ship in Asia. The CAT 4 incident occurred onboard a container ship while anchored at Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) Anchorage, Philippines.

In the early morning hours of 13 June, the Hong Kong-flagged container ship Seaspan Fraser was at MICT Anchorage, Manila.

While the ship was preparing to heave up the anchor going to MICT Pilot Station, one of the crew spotted a bolt cutter near the bosun store and noticed that the padlock of the store was broken. The bosun store is on the forward bow of the ship.

The bosun mate immediately inspected the store and assessed that there were no missing items, and there might had been a boarding to attempt theft.

The incident was reported to the Port State Control Manila.

The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.




One of the underlining causes of piracy in Somalia is its very fragile economy. Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa and one of the world most untapped marine resources. The 3300 kms of fertile fishing grounds could be the key to transform the economy of this otherwise arid country. But the infrastructure of the fishing industry is largely underdeveloped making it hard for local fishermen to catch larger fish near their shores. In an effort to turn this situation around, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization with the support of its donors and the protection of the EU, launched an initiative in 2015 to deploy 25 Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD) to attract high value fish to the Somali shores. Besides protection, EU NAVFOR Somalia provided security and logistical support using their equipment and know-how to rightly position these FADs.

“The FADs initiative is at the heart of the work by FAO and our partners to boost coastal livelihoods, strengthen resilience and tackle the underlying causes of piracy – Illegal fishing, degradation of local fisheries, high levels of youth unemployment, and food insecurity,” said Richard Trenchard, former FAO representative in Somalia (2015).

Deploying a Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) along the Somali shore

These FADs attract pelagic fish, which are migrating through the area and bringing them closer to the Somali shores. They are an important tool for the development of sustainable artisan and small-scale commercial fisheries providing food and livelihoods to otherwise vulnerable coastal communities in Somalia. These devices keep the fishermen off the reef thus contributing to the protection of the marine life in the area. The programme helps local communities to involve in sustainable and productive employment creating a viable alternative to piracy activities. Michele Cervone d’Urso, the European Union Head of Delegation and Ambassador to Somalia in 2015 described the FAD programme as a crucial addition to efforts to create employment in Somalia’s piracy-affected areas:

“This is an integrated approach to creating long-term, sustainable employment opportunities to youth and women as alternatives to piracy and migration, by developing the value chains of the fishery and livestock sector within the coastal communities of Puntland, Galmudug and Banadir where traditionally communities have combined seasonal fishing and pastoral activities.The intention behind this initiative is to support local fishermen so they don’t have to travel into deep-water to catch high value fish anymore avoiding that every year thousands of fishers are lost at sea because of adverse weather, vessel breakdown, and/or human error. Fishing around anchored FADs is safer than fishing in the open sea, as rescue teams will know where to start a search, if someone goes missing. A boat that loses power may tie off to a FAD and wait for rescue, but usually there is more than one boat fishing at a FAD so help will be right there.

FADs that break from their moorings are a form of marine debris and pose a threat to navigation safety and the marine environment. Regular monitoring and maintenance along with fisher training and public awareness campaigns lessen the impact that FADs have on the environment.

As position is key in ensuring the sustainability of FADS, EU NAVFOR Atalanta was commissioned to monitor the programme. ESPS Numancia is currently inspecting the location and condition of the FADs to ensure its sustainable use and to secure the waters off the coast of Somalia.



Tanker robbed while at Merak Anchorage, Indonesia

In its weekly report for 16-22 June, ReCAAP ISC informed of one armed robbery against ship in Asia. The CAT 4 incident occurred onboard a tanker anchored at Merak anchorage, Indonesia.

In the early morning hours of 17 June, the Singaporean-flagged tanker BW Zambesi was at Merak Anchorage, Indonesia.

At about 2:00 am, the chief engineer on his rounds discovered that the ship’s Inert Gas System (IGS) weathertight door handle was broken.

Following a search on board the ship, the crew found there was no sign of forced entry, but some generator spares were missing from the engine room.

They also found the net lashing on the port side had been cut; and suspected the perpetrators could had entered and exited from there. There was no injury to crew.

The weekly report contains also an incident outside Asia.

The Singaporean-flagged tanker BW Tagus was about 250 nm off Nigeria, Gulf of Guinea, on 14 June.

While drifting on the high seas, a suspicious craft, ‘Via Avenir’, pursued the tanker.

The duty officer sighted the craft altering course in the direction of the tanker and increased its speed to approximately 14.5 knots.

To deter the pursuit, the ship undertook evasive manoeuvres and maintained at high speed until the ship was at a safe distance from the craft.

Consequently, there was no injury to crew.



6 crew kidnapped from fishing vessel off Cotonou

Sources reports that the fishing vessel Panofi Frontiner has been attacked by several gunmen on board one speed boat 61nm South of Cotonou Port.

After a successful boarding, the individuals left the vessel with 6 crew members believed to be 5 Korean and one Ghanaian. The speedboat was last seen heading East towards Nigerian waters.

This is the 7th incident within the waters off Cotonou within 2020. The last incident recorded within this area was on the 14 May 20 when a vessel was approached 106nm South Cotonou.

This represents a significant uptick in reporting within this area with only one incident reported across the same time frame within 2019 and three incidents across the whole of 2019

…sources added.

This incident appears to be the second boarding of a fishing vessel in the waters off Lome and Cotonou with the Hijack of the Hailufeng 11 occuring on the evening of the 15th May 20.

Perpetrators of serious maritime security incidents within this area are assessed to originate from within Nigeria and are increasingly seeking to target vulnerable vessels in waters beyond the traditional heartland of the Southern Niger Delta.


ReCAAP ISC Weekly Report 9-15 Jun 2020

Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia


During 9-15 Jun 20, one incident of armed robbery against ships in Asia was reported to the ReCAAP ISC. The CAT 4 1 incident occurred on 29 May to a fishing trawler while underway at approximately 20 nm along the coastline from Goa in a northeastern direction. As the exact position of the incident is to be confirmed, the map below shows the location of Goa, and the detailed description of the incident is tabulated in the attachment.


Situation Update On 16 Jun, the ReCAAP ISC received information from the Philippine Coast Guard (ReCAAP Focal Point) that there was an arrest of three members of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) by the Malaysian authorities in Sabah, Malaysia. The arrested ASG members were handed over to the Philippine authorities on 7 Jun. Nonetheless, as the threat of abduction of crew still exists in the area, ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise enhanced vigilance while transiting the area.

1 CAT (Category) 4 incident is classified as “least significant” in nature. Under this category, the perpetrators were not armed, and the crew not harmed.


ReCAAP ISC Advisory

As the risk of the abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah is high as demonstrated by the recurrence of the abduction incident on 17 Jan 20 and information of planned kidnapping by members of ASG on 22 May 20, the ReCAAP ISC reiterates its advisory issued via ReCAAP ISC Incident Alert dated 21 Nov 16 to all ships to reroute from the area, where possible. Otherwise, ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area, and report immediately to the Operation Centres of Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) of Malaysia. The contact details of the Operation Centres of the Philippines and ESSCOM of Malaysia (updated by ReCAAP ISC on 3 Jan 19) are as follow:

Contact details

In the event that the ship master is not able to establish contact with the Operation Centres of the Philippines as listed in the ReCAAP ISC Advisory, he can contact the Philippine Coast Guard Command Centre at the following contact details:

Tel: +632-8-527-8481 (ext: 6136/37)
+632-998-585-5327 (mobile)
+632-917-842-8249 (mobile)
+632-8-527-3877 (fax)

The ReCAAP ISC advises the shipping industry and ships to enhance their situation awareness by referring to the Guidance on Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah produced by ReCAAP ISC in July 2019. The Guidance is available at



The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

Source : ReCAAP ISC


Suspicious vessel arrested in West Africa

A passenger ferry was detained on 15 June for alleged involvement in maritime crime and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Swedish flagged vessel, Hawa III, is thought to have been involved in four kidnappings that have taken place off the coast of Gabon since the beginning of 2020 and is currently at anchor at the port of Libreville, Gabon.

Multiple kidnaps have taken place in the region this year. On 3 May six crew were kidnapped off two fishing trawlers off the coast of Gabon, a further seven crew were kidnapped, on 22 March, off containership MSC Talia F while the vessel was on route from Lome, Togo to Libreville.

Hawa III made several voyages between Libreville and Lome, Togo, and has been operating in West Africa since November 2017.

Over the last few years the Gulf of Guinea has become synonymous with crew kidnappings and incidents of piracy. The International Maritime Bureau annual reports have shown a drastic increase, especially in kidnappings. From 2016 to 2019 there was an average of 75 kidnappings per year compared to just 18 in the period of 2010-2015.

Source: Safety at Sea


India looks to liaise with European forces in Strait of Hormuz

The world’s third largest oil importing nation wants to deploy naval officers to the EMASOH.

India is looking to post naval officers with the European-led military mission to the Strait of Hormuz patrolling the region to ensure freedom of navigation for commercial ships.

According to The Hindu newspaper, the world’s third largest oil importing nation intends to send Naval Liaison Officers to the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) in an effort to develop stronger links in the maritime world.

The Abu Dhabi-based EMASOH was organised by France and includes Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The group was launched in response to Iran’s alleged harassment of commercial shipping that began last year with the sabotage of several tankers.

In April and May, the group conducted more than 20 patrols of the Strait of Hormuz and monitored the detention of the 22,400-dwt tanker SC Taipei (built 2000) in mid-April, when Iranian forces were said to have boarded the ship, taken it into their territorial and held it for several hours before letting it go.

The EMASOH operates in the area alongside the US-led International Maritime Security Construct and independent operations from Japan and South Korea. The EMASOH has said it works with all groups.

Roughly a fifth of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz each day, making the waterway critical to the world economy.

Recently, though, the geopolitical conflict between Iran and the US has shifted to the Caribbean Sea, with Iran sending gasoline shipments to Venezuela.

The US had levied stringent sanctions against both countries in an attempt to topple their ruling regimes.

Iran is said to be sending another shipment to Venezuela, this time of parts to help fix its oil refineries.

The ship, the 22,882-dwt Golsan (built 1998), is in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1,400 nautical miles from Caracas.

Source: TradeWinds


Fishing trawler boarded and robbed off India

In its weekly piracy report for 9-15 June, ReCAAP ISC informed of one attack against the Indian fishing trawler Sea Blessia – I off India.



Gulf of Guinea pirate attack averted

Five pirates attempted to board container ship Rio Charleston on 10 June, 98 km off the coast of Bayelsa, Nigeria. The attack is the ninth piracy incident to take place deep offshore in the Gulf of Guinea in 2020.

The vessel managed to avert the attack by increasing its speed, activating fire pumps, and performing evasive action. Crew are reportedly safe and the vessel, at time of writing, is travelling up the Bonne River towards Nigeria’s Onne port, according to AIS data.

There has been a growing incident of piracy attacks offshore. The total number of pirate incidents has increased to 59 thus far in 2020, compared with 56 in the same period last year.

“This is part of a trend of incidents occurring deeper offshore,” sources added.  “If you look at 2018 the majority of incidents, they are staying close in to shore, in and among the energy infrastructure of the Delta. However, increasingly, towards the latter end of 2019 and early 2020, we’re seeing more incidents at that 120–185 km range. We’ve seen pirates operating with a very high degree of confidence and range in small boats.

“The use of mother ships is assessed to be still ongoing, but we do see that pirates are quite content to bring a lot of fuel with them and go out to 185 km in small boats – this is less common during the May-September monsoon season.”

Source: Safety at Sea

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