A gang of pirates chased and fired at a car carrier off the coast of Nigeria this week in what is believed to be the first pirate attack in the region in 2016.
The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center confirmed the attack, reporting that on Tuesday, Jan. 19th pirates in two speed boats chased and fired upon the vehicle carrier while underway around 37 nautical miles southwest of Bayelsa, Nigeria, located just to the west of Nigeria’s largest oil hub Port Harcourt.
“Master raised the alarm and SSAS, mustered all crew and activated the water hoses. After three hours the pirates abandon the chase. One crew member reported minor injury. Remaining crew safe,” the report stated.
The incident is the first recorded act of piracy in the new year in the Gulf of Guinea/West Africa region, according to IMB data.
The report did not provide any information concerning the identity of the vehicle carrier involved in Tuesday’s incident.
A total of 49 piracy incidents were reported in the Gulf of Guinea region in 2015, a 29% decrease compared to a year earlier, according to annual report just released by UK-based maritime intelligence firm Dryad Maritime. The drop in reported incidents in West Africa also saw an unprecedented 5 month break from any acts of piracy, but that streak ended in October when four crew members were kidnapped from a cargo ship off the Niger Delta, Dryad said.
Despite the falling number of overall incidents, the risk of kidnapping continues to be a concern with the number of crew kidnapped from vessels in 2015 actually surpassing 2014’s records, Dryad warns.
In total, 2015 saw at least 37 crew kidnapped for ransom in 9 separate incidents off the Niger Delta, according to Dryad.