c-retriever PSV

PSV C-Retriever, image via Christian/Shipspotting

“Things are definitely getting more intense here,” remarked one of our sources working offshore Nigeria this afternoon.

A security boat manned with Joint Task Force (JTF) Nigeria personnel was allegedly attacked by militants this morning off Nigeria.  According to one of our sources, all JTF personnel were killed and their weapons taken by the militants.

“This is the second attack on a security boat in the past three days,” our source adds.

Additional gCaptain sources also indicate that the Edison Chouest-owned, US-flagged platform supply vessel C-Retriever was working in a nearby field off Brass, Nigeria and was also attacked, an incident that our sources indicate was unrelated to the attack on the JTF personnel.  Our source notes that the Captain and Chief Engineer, who are both US citizens, were kidnapped. A very close family friend of the Chief Engineer (who identified himself as his brother, but whos name is withheld at his request) confirmed with us that the FBI is working on the case.

In a phone conversation with the friend of the engineer, Edison Chouest explained to them that 90 percent of the kidnap victims were returned to their families in good health and that the kidnappers had not yet contacted the company.  Typically, first contact is made within 7 to 10 days, and the final “transaction” where the ransom is paid and person released happens in about a month.

The friend notes that the kidnap victim is a huge Gator fan, enjoys riding motorcycles, and has a huge heart.  In fact, he mentioned that one time he gave $2,000 to a total stranger after someone stole her Christmas tree and all her presents.

We have reached out to Edison Chouest for official comment, but they have not yet returned our phone call or emails.

A State Department official commented in an emailed statement saying, “We are closely monitoring reports that two U.S. citizens have been kidnapped from a U.S.-flagged vessel, the C-RETRIEVER, in the Gulf of Guinea.  We are seeking additional information about the incident.”

In an emailed note this morning from CBS News, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has reportedly taken responsibility for the attack and are holding the two Americans captive, however as other news agencies we’ve talked to this morning note, these militant groups can really say whatever they want and it’s not necessarily the truth.

The following is a graphic of the vessel tracking data for the C-Retriever which was obtained via vessel tracking provider, PortVision.com.  The circled position indicates the vessel’s last known position, which was recorded at 2243 CDT on 22 October.

c-retriever ais position

Image via PortVision, click for larger

Do you have more information about this incident? Please email us at info@gcaptain.com

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  • Hugh Smith

    Rob check out oyibosonline.com for more info on this… Look at the security and news tab.

  • Hugh Smith

    Shippers Raise Alarm Over Oil Piracy in Gulf of Guinea
    The vast Gulf of Guinea which is nearly as big as the Gulf of Mexico is now one of the most dangerous bodies of water in the world, home to pirates that attack oil tankers and other cargo vessels at will, raising fears that shipping lanes that have existed for 500 years could be permanently disrupted.

    West African piracy centered on the Niger Delta has in recent years expanded from the coasts of Nigeria to the shorelines of many of the 11 West African countries that border the Gulf where pirates seize large oil tankers, siphon the product into smaller vessels, refine it in clandestine facilities and quickly sell it, fueling a regional oil black market.

    Oil-consuming nations are concerned because more than 30 percent of U.S. oil and 40 percent of Europe’s oil passes through the Gulf and is vulnerable to West African piracy.

    The largest foreign investor in Nigeria’s booming oil industry, Royal Dutch Shell, says that oil pipeline theft on land, and piracy at sea means about 100,000 barrels of oil are stolen every day in that country, costing the Nigerian government an estimated $12 billion a year.

    Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea

    “The Gulf of Guinea’s problem is not a dramatic rise in the number of attacks,” said Delex Systems Inc. analyst James Bridger for the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, Maryland. It is “the expansion of a criminal enterprise once restricted to Nigerian waters.” The wave of piracy has spread to Benin, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire. Within the past 30 months, 93 tankers have been attacked, and 30 were successfully hijacked. In their latest raid, pirates seized a Turkish tanker off the coast of Gabon.

    The Niger Delta is “the epicenter” of Gulf piracy, according to a report by Dryad Maritime Services, a maritime security intelligence firm in Portsmouth, UK. “Kidnapping is an endemic industry embedded within Nigerian criminal culture with the threat permeating both the land and sea domains. Foreign nationals remain a primary target for this criminal enterprise, due to the high ransom payments that can be achieved,” said the report.

    “West Africa has reached a tipping point, like East Africa and South East Asia before it,” according to Bridger in Annapolis.

    Not much protection for tankers

    Recent anti-piracy efforts so successful off Somalia’s coast have had only limited success in the Gulf of Guinea because shipping companies are prohibited from hiring foreign armed security and foreign naval powers cannot pursue pirates in West African territorial waters where most attacks take place.

    While most countries along the Gulf of Guinea have been unable to cope with the pirates there has been one exception; Benin.

    “Beninois and Nigerian navies had a successful operation co-operation called Operation Prosperity which brought down the number of piracy cases drastically,” said Adjoa Anyimuda, author of a Chatham House report on West Africa’s maritime piracy. Along their short coastline Benin recorded 20 successful and attempted attacks in 2011. In 2012 there were only two.

    But the number of piracy attempts are underestimated, Anyimuda said. Many attacks go unreported because shippers think local authorities are not capable of doing anything about the piracy or they believe “some elements within local authorities may be culpable.”

    Despite regional prohibitions, some shippers still try to arm their vessels. Nine months ago, 15 Russian sailors aboard the MV Myre Seadiver were arrested by Nigerian authorities for possession of weapons and live ammunition.

    ‘It’s not a naval problem … ‘

    The International Crisis Group argues that the solution to West Africa’s piracy is not more navies but a comprehensive regional reform of police enforcement and court systems currently incapable of handling the piracy crime wave, said Mark Schneider, director of ICG operations in Washington, D.C.

    “Corruption has so weakened those institutions to begin with,” said Schneider, “that there is a major rescue effort that must be taken in order for them to become a real ally to the business community and the shipping community.”

    “Nigerian criminal syndicates, backed by high-level political and economic patrons, are exploiting this situation by targeting specific tankers for hi-jacking,” said Bridger, the Delex Systems analyst. Dryad suggests the pirates’ efficiency may be linked to professional outside supervision from organized crime syndicates in Eastern Europe or Asia. But Schneider said that so far the pirated crude is only being traded on the West African oil black market.

    Without more international attention, the ICG reports, “Piracy and other organized crime will continue to plague the Gulf of Guinea, raise energy prices in the U.S. and other markets and lead to further de-stabilization in an already fragile part of the world.”


    • Jacamo Jaco Jah

      Hey douche..have you ever heard of 25 words or less?

  • http://www.uelventures.com Oba Motoni

    Sovereignty need go with responsibiliy.

  • Kamin lambertson

    How soon can we learn to live without that oil? Either that or structure our militaries & governments like their crime syndicates.

  • Brad

    Kudos to gCaptain for breaking this story. Prayers for the kidnapped and their families.

  • http://www.piracydaily.com Martin Edwin Andersen

    Just in on Piracy Daily: Press Release: “President of AdvanFort sympathetic with families of 2 U.S. seafarers kidnapped by Nigerian pirates” @ http://goo.gl/ZlHTkg

    • Fred

      Yep anything to get their name in the news.

      • http://www.piracydaily.com Martin Edwin Andersen

        You mean like when William Watson’s company became the first foreign PMSC to be certified for operation in the Gulf of Guinea by the Benin government?

      • http://www.piracydaily.com Martin Edwin Andersen

        Or when AdvanFort announced that it had volunteered for service in the piracy-infested waters in and around the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean as part of the U.S. Coast Guard-coordinated Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (Amver), whose members assist any nearby vessel in distress?

  • Capncraigagain

    High time for getting some real crime fighters on the high seas. Along with that, save time, money and send a clear message to the terrorists of the world by taking no prisoners, only pictures.

  • Chris VZ

    Lovely news to read before I go to Ghana next month and then out to the Gulf of Guinea for 7 weeks doing seismic prospecting.

    Wish me luck…

    • cuem

      be safe! god bless!

    • http://none sarah gilliat

      do you have a western company protecting you, or at least a western trained local national force.

  • karl seemann

    Worked off nigeria over 10 years. Was never captured or shot at but can tell of several other u.s. Mariners that have been “taken into the bush” or how vessels were attacked. Wish them luck.

  • Chad James

    My prayers go out to these families…. My father was kidnapped 3 years ago next month from a oil rig platform held him captive for 9 nights and 10 days

  • Dan D. Mann

    Relax..They’re just trying to make a living.

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    Hey, we have all the tools you need to attract more people to your site

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