Pirates off the coast of Nigeria chased and shot at a containership underway on Tuesday in the first reported piracy incident in the Gulf of Guinea region so far this year.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre reports that around 0935 local time on January 21 a speed boat with around 15 armed people on board chased and fired upon the ship as it was around 19 nautical miles SW of Bayelsa in the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria.
The ship’s alarm was raised and all non-essential crew took shelter in the ship’s secured citadel. The vessel increased speed and an armed naval guard onboard the containership returned fire, resulting in the skiff abandoning the attack and moving away, the IMB report said.
The unidentified vessel and crew are reported safe.
The incident is the first reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre so far this year in the region.
The attack comes after the IMB reported an unprecedented rise in the number of crew kidnappings in 2019 in the Gulf of Guinea region, with the number of kidnapped increasing more than 50 percent year-over-year to 121 reported kidnappings. The figure represents 90 percent of crew kidnappings globabally in 2019. The region also accounted for 64 total incidents, including all four vessel hijackings that occurred in 2019, as well as 10 out of 11 vessels that reported coming under fire.