On 8 February 2017, the LPG tanker GAZ PROVIDENCE was attacked and boarded by pirates in the Bight of Bonny, 40 nautical miles south of Bonny Island, Nigeria. The vessel was approached by a motor skiff with armed men on board. The crew on board the vessel managed to send out a distress signal to the local authorities and the Nigerian Navy. The Nigerian navy dispatched the navy ship Okpabana to the scene, rescuing the vessel and all 21 crewmembers on board. All crewmembers have been reported safe. The pirates managed to flee the scene after stealing some valuables and cash. They did not cause sufficient damage to the vessel. The vessel headed to Port Harcourt, where it will be inspected before returning to service. An investigation of the incident is currently underway.
This incident comes after pirates kidnapped seven Russians and one Ukrainian crewmember after they attacked the cargo vessel BBC CARIBBEAN off the coast of Nigeria. The attack was confirmed late on 7 February 2017.
MS Risk continues to warn that the Gulf of Guinea region, and particularly waters off Nigeria, remain dangerous, and the threat of attack, hijacking and kidnapping remains very high.
Any vessels transiting this region are advised to remain on high alert at all times. Masters should increase watches and identify national assets in the region, such as warships or coast guard vessels that could be contacted in the event of an emergency. Crewmembers should remain vigilant and on the look out for any suspect vessels and actions should be taken in order to prepare all crewmembers in the event of an attack.
After several weeks of relative calm in this region, these two attacks are likely to encourage other pirate incidents.