Pirates strike off Nigerian coast, abduct five seafarers

Another five crew members have been kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea as pirate groups step up their violent ransom campaign.

The 1,700-dwt general cargoship AM Delta (built 1992) was raided in the early hours of Monday, security consultancies Ambrey and Dryad Global reported. The ship was 44 nautical miles (81 km) south of Brass in Nigeria.

The vessel is understood to have been boarded by six or seven gunmen. The abducted crew members are Ghanaian.

The pirates are reported to have damaged communications and navigation equipment.

The vessel was said to be drifting with two crew members on board.

The attack is the ninth in November alone, with 115 seafarers kidnapped in the region so far this year.

“This incident occurred closer to shore than the majority of incidents in 2020, which have thus far reflected the developed trend of incidents at the 80-plus nautical miles range,” said Dryad.

“It is within a high-traffic area that saw a large cluster of incidents in both 2018 and 2019.”

Seven vessels had been boarded or approached over the last week, before a gang kidnapped 14 Chinese crew from a heavy-lift vessel on Friday.

Following these unsuccessful attacks, Dryad said it is highly likely that the pirates sought to return to areas of known traffic density and opportunistic targets.

The company added that the incidents emphasise the critical nature of the risk in the Gulf of Guinea after the monsoon season ended.

“As a result of the geographic spread of incidents throughout November it was assessed as a realistic possibility that the incidents were perpetuated by more than one PAG [pirate action group], or indeed two teams operating as part of the same PAG,” Dryad said.

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