Product tanker attacked at anchorage in Nigeria

A Nigerian naval member during a multinational maritime exercise off the coast of Lagos on March 20, 2019. Credit: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

Four persons armed with automatic weapons in a speed boat were seen approaching a San Pedro Pio product tanker, anchored at Bonny River’s inner anchorage in Nigeria. The report to the International Maritime Bureau revealed that two of the party managed to board the vessel and opened fire on the crew, aiming towards the accommodation quarters.

The attack took place in the evening of 15 April at around 20:20 UTC, however, Nigerian naval guards onboard the tanker returned fire forcing the assailants to retreat back to their speed boat and escape. According to IHS Markit data, the vessel was already under arrest by the Nigerian Navy for oil smuggling on 9 March 2018, explaining why naval guards were already onboard the vessel when the attack took place.

The alarm was raised and a PA announcement made for crew to gather in the citadel. Bonny signal station as well as the Nigerian Navy were notified of the incident.

One guard was injured during the shooting, with crew providing first aid. Security vessels operating in the area responded to the tankers distress call and provided assistance. The guard was transferred to one of the security vessels and transported ashore for immediate medical treatment. No other crew or personnel were injured.

West Africa has emerged as a major hot spot for piracy activity in 2018, according to International Maritime Bureau data. The largest rise was seen in Nigeria, going from 33 attacks in 2017 to 48 in 2018.

Emma Mitchell, business director at ASKET told Safety at Sea, “Even when a vessel is under the umbrella of arranged security the maintenance of situational awareness amongst the crew is paramount to being able to react when a situation occurs.”

She also wanted to remind crew working in such high-risk areas that “BMP 5 type measures appropriate to the task in hand should be implemented at all times when in a high-risk area.”