Pirates strike again in Gulf of Guinea, signifying failure of Nigeria’s deep blue project

3 piracy incidents reported within 20 days in Singapore Strait


Pirates struck again early Thursday morning in the Gulf of Guinea, giving a clear indication that Nigeria’s multimillion dollars deep blue maritime security project launched in June has failed to deliver on its promises.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had touted the deep blue project as the solution to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. However, attacks against ships have persisted both within Nigeria’s internal waters and the Gulf of Guinea region, six months after the launch of the project.

The latest attack resulted in the killing of a crew member and kidnapping of six others.

MDAT-GoG, the monitoring operation for the region, reported a boarding at 3:00 a.m. local time on December 30 off Equatorial Guinea, which made it the third attack in the region in December 2021.

Security analyst Dryad Global said the attack took place on a Chinese-owned fishing vessel in the Mbini area of Equatorial Guinea.

The attack happened approximately 12 nautical miles northeast of the FPSO Ceibo.

“The perpetrators are believed to have been armed and one crew member is understood to have been killed in the attack. Reporting indicates that six personnel, including the captain, have been kidnapped from the vessel,” Dryad said.

The crew members are understood to be from Ghana and Mali.

Security analysts have warned that as the security efforts increased in the region that the pirates would continue to target opportunistic vessels. While they still have the capacity to target larger commercial vessels, such as the recent assault on a Greek-owned containership chartered to CMA CGM, they are also seeking out smaller vessels that they perceive to be more vulnerable.

“Prior to the recent attacks, waters off Equatorial Guinea have historically witnessed significantly less reporting than those of neighboring waters.

“Pirates have historically shown a capacity to avoid the maritime security footprint within the Gulf of Guinea and are likely to seek to continue to exploit weaknesses where these are found.

“Pirates have also shown an intent to reinforce success in areas where operations have been successful and as such the risk to vessels operating within both Equatorial Guinean waters and those offshore is increased,” Dryad stated.

Dryad stated that the latest kidnapping was the eleventh in the region in 2021, bringing the total number of crews kidnapped in offshore incidents in the region to 82.

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