Nigerian Pirates Kidnap Five Despite Firefight with Escort Boat


Cortesia, MAREX

According to the ICC IMB’s Piracy Report, a maritime security escort boat failed to prevent the kidnapping of five crewmembers from an OSV in the Gulf of Guinea last weekend. Despite an active firefight between the escort and the attackers, pirates boarded the target vessel, ransacked its cabins and made off with the victims. 

At about 1115 hours UTC on Saturday, at a position about 30 nm off Brass, Nigeria, armed pirates in two speed boats approached an OSV under way. The OSV’s captain called for help from what IMB ICC described as a “naval escort security boat,” which maneuvered to engage the attackers. One speed boat closed in from port side of the vessel and crossed the bow, while the other speed boat exchanged fire with the security boat.

To defend themselves against the attack, the OSV’s crew gathered in the engine room and shut down all power. The pirates in the second speedboat boarded the vessel using a ladder. They broke into the deckhouse, vandalized the cabins and took crew belongings and vessel’s equipment. The pirates then proceeded to the engine room, kidnapped five men and escaped. The remaining crews sailed the vessel under escort to a safe anchorage.

One Nigerian Navy armed guard was reportedly killed in the exchange of fire between the naval security boat and the pirates.

Nigeria forbids the presence of embarked private maritime security contractors at its seaports. This effectively prohibits Gulf of Guinea vessel operators from using on-board armed guards, which have proven successful in deterring pirates in the high-risk area off Somalia. Instead, Nigeria permits private contractors to provide for-hire Security Escort Vessel (SEV) services using civilian boats and armed Nigerian Navy active duty servicemembers. According to one well-regarded security services firm, this system has historically been challenged by “extremely high costs and issues of poor performance and reliability.”

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