Five crew kidnapped off Cotonou

Incidents in the Gulf of Guinea. Credit: ICC-CCS

A general cargo vessel was boarded by heavily armed suspected pirates who kidnapped five crew members 153 nm south west off the coast of Cotonou, Benin, on 2 July.

According to IHS Markit AISLive ship tracking portal, the Singapore flagged KOTA BUDI, had last called the port of Warri, Nigeria. It is unknown where the vessel was en route to.

According to the ship owner, Pacific International Lines, the five kidnapped crew members were of Chinese nationality and included the captain of the vessel. The remaining 15 crew were unharmed.

While the latest piracy report figures for Q2 are awaiting to be published by the International Maritime Bureau, it looks likely  that the number of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea will surpass the 2019 figures for the same quarter. This latest kidnapping brings the total of number of kidnappings at sea in the Gulf of Guinea this year to 78, according to figures collated by Dryad Global, which is a 26% increase compared to the same time period in 2019.

The Best Management Practices West Africa booklet, published in March 2020, advises crew to muster as quickly as possible in the citadel, as the last layer of defence when a piracy boarding is imminent, to avoid being kidnapped. Frequent drills and safety plan are also advised, to be conducted in accordance with the ship protection measures in place.