Based on the current UK P&I report, kidnapping for ransom has significantly increased in the Gulf of Guinea and assesses whether or not this issue will continue. The Gulf of Guinea is seen as the most dangerous region for seafarers. Additionally, another recent report by Oceans Beyond Piracy mentioned that the overall number of kidnaps for ransom on 2016 in the Gulf of Guinea has already surpassed the total number of incidents that are recorded by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) for the previous year.
The IMB has collected 10 incidents in the Gulf of Guinea from the first quarter of 2016, and the kidnap of 16 seafarers. On 2015, the Merchant Trade Information Sharing Centre for the Gulf of Guinea (MTISC-GoG) found there were 56 incidents in the area and recorded 35 seafarers that were kidnapped. The rising number in kidnapping for ransom has been recorded since 2014, where 16% of attacks in the area involved kidnapping for ransom and in 2015 was 28% of attacks.
There are reasons why so many cases of kidnapping occur in the Gulf of Guinea at the moment. Most of the maritime kidnaps are recorded from outside Nigerian waters and occasionally abducted seafarers are held hostage outside or on the margins of Nigerian territory. Another reason why the kidnapping number has increased in this past few years is caused by improved naval patrolling by the Nigerian and other littoral navies might have made cargo theft more difficult and dangerous. Cargo theft with a large amount of content takes time, thus, criminals now have moved to a crime that takes less time on vessels and leaves them less exposed to naval patrols. For instance, the kidnap for ransom of ships’ crews.
The UK P&I found that all kidnaps that have been undertaken within this area are mainly for financial gain and there have been no political demands made for the return of kidnapped seafarers in this area.
The expense of protecting vessels in the region are well known. However, the attacks on vessels and the kidnapping of seafarers within this area have a further impact on the business. Owners and crewing agencies might find it difficult to crew ships in these waters, specifically with nationalities that have an appropriate experience, skill set, and languages.
Risk Focus: Kidnap and Ransom – https://www.ukpandi.com/fileadmin/uploads/uk-pi/LP%20Documents/2017/UK%20Risk%20Focus%20Consolidated%202017%20WEB.pdf