Benin - Piracy in Vicinity of Cotonou

July 2011

In recent weeks there have been a significant number of incidents of piracy or armed robbery at sea involving vessels off the coast of Benin in the vicinity of Cotonou.  The distribution of attacks can be seen from the image below which has been extracted from the ICC International Maritime Bureau (ICC IMB) Live Piracy Map.


Image courtesy of ICC IMB

According to data maintained by ICC IMB, since 8th May 2011 there have been ten instances of vessels either being boarded or hijacked, and one attempted boarding. With one exception, the attacks have all occurred whilst vessels were either at anchor or undertaking STS operations and hence at a time of increased vulnerability. The perpetrators of these attacks are armed and have demonstrated a willingness to use armed force to achieve their objectives. There have unfortunately been a number of crew injuries as a result. The objective of these attacks has generally been the theft of cash and valuables from the vessel concerned and its crew. However, there have also been a number of instances where vessels have been hijacked and taken to locations to facilitate the theft of cargo. This latter development indicates a greater degree of organisation associated with these crimes.

Further information, advice and recommendations have been sought from the Club’s local correspondents and this will be published once received. In the meantime, Members should be aware of this increased area of risk and either avoid this area, or if this is not possible, instruct Masters to increase the level of vigilance onboard and harden security when operating in these waters.

With thanks to ICC IMB for their permission to share this information.