Maersk boxship targeted by pirates in Gulf of Guinea

A Post-Panamax containership operated by Danish shipping giant Maersk has come under an attempted piracy attack in the Gulf of Guinea.

Illustration. Courtesy of EU NAVFOR on Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The 4,496 TEU Maersk Cardiff was approached by a small vessel some 150 nautical miles southwest of Bonny in the evening of 13 January 2021, Dryad Global said.

“We can confirm that on 13 January 2021 at app. 20.30 local time, criminals attempted boarding of the Maersk Cardiff while en route from Tema, Ghana to Cameroon,” Maersk said separately in an emailed statement.

Crew members managed to alert a patrol ship before retreating to a citadel. However, the perpetrators had already left before the guard vessel arrived.

“We were able to get a guard vessel to the scene who confirmed that no criminals were in the vicinity of Maersk Cardiff,” Maersk added.

All crew members were reported safe and the Singapore-flagged ship was ready to continue its voyage.

“We are fortunate that our crew on Maersk Cardiff are safe, and we will continue to seek solutions to an unacceptable situation where the security risk in Gulf of Guinea is increased,” Palle Laursen, Chief Technical Officer A.P. Moller – Maersk, commented. 

Gulf of Guinea witnesses surge in incidents

In 2020, a total of 135 crew were kidnapped from their vessels, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95 per cent of seafarers kidnapped, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in its latest piracy report.

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A cluster of incidents occurred throughout the past year in a triangle area south of Agbami and Egina Terminals.

Since 1 December 2020, there has been seventeen incidents in the Gulf of Guinea HRA, ten of which were in this area, according to Dryad.

There has been a surge in incidents in the past five weeks, resulting in an increased risk rating for the Gulf of Guinea HRA to CRITICAL on 11 November. The increase in risk profile was further underpinned by the release of an imminent attack warning by MDAT-GoG covering the waters of ECOWAS Areas F,E,D, the maritime security intelligence company noted.