Vessels urged to remain cautious off West Africa due to alleged security breach

A security breach has allegedly occurred in the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre, Gulf of Guinea (MTISC-GoG), resulting in information being leaked to individuals with the intent and capability to launch hijackings in the area, an insurance agency Standard P&I Club informed.

The agency added that the breach has not yet been formally confirmed and that “vessels should use caution when reporting to MTISC GoG”.

International shipping association BIMCO advised that the company risk assessments and vessel hardening procedures, outlined in the Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for Protection against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea Region, should continue to be followed.

Standard P&I Club said that BIMCO recommended that “vessels entering the vessel reporting area for West Africa should continue to register with MTISC GoG in order to receive incident reports, but limit the provision of any information which would allow vessels to be identified or tracked.”

The shipping association said that in this way shipping security in the region should be preserved.

Since mid-January there has been a notable uptick in reported incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

According to UK-owned risk management solutions provider Protection Group International (PGI), the pirates have given up on oil cargo theft and turned their attention to kidnapping crewmembers for ransom.

There were four recorded attacks on vessels in the area involving kidnapping in January, a significant increase compared to one per month from October to December 2015, while there were no reports of major oil cargo thefts since October 2015.

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