Piracy Alert - Nigeria and Somalia

August 2007

The ICC International Maritime Bureau has recently published its report on incidents of piracy against ships occurring during the second quarter of 2007. Although the total number of incidents in the first six months of 2007 is equivalent to the experience of 2006, there has in contrast been an increase in the number of incidents occuring in the second quarter of 2007 compared with the same period last year. Nigeria and the sea area off the coast of Somalia re-emerge as piracy hotspots in the last quarter.

Attacks in Nigeria are mainly directed towards foreign oil workers on support and standby vessels operating in the Niger delta. However, there have also been attacks on tankers during cargo operations. The ICC-IMB advises that the pirates are usually heavily armed, and the attacks well planned and coordinated such that any form of resistance is futile.

Off the coast of Somalia, hijackings have made an unwelcome comeback, and attacks have been reported a very considerable distance from the coast - up to 210 nautical miles. The Eastern and North-Eastern coasts are identified as extremely high risk areas for attacks and hijackings. Members with vessels transiting the area that are not scheduled to call at ports in Somalia are recommended to ensure that they stay as far away from the Somali coast as possible, and at least 200 nautical miles off. The apparent ability of the pirates to launch attacks from positions in excess of 180 nautical miles from the coast is a matter of great concern, and indicates that they are operating from mother vessels. The ICC-IMB advises that a vessel under attack in these waters can expect no support from the "authorities" in Somalia and consequently their advice to vessels underway and under attack is not to slow down or stop, no matter how intimidating the attack might be. They stress the importance of trying to identify the position of the pirate mother ship from which the attack craft has originated. These are typically large dhows or fishing vessels, detectable on radar. All the vessels that were attacked, but managed to escape capture had altered course and moved away from the mother ship. This action forces the attacking craft to move out of its "comfort zone" and has been found to deter continuance of the attack.

Members who may require specific further information are recommended to contact the Loss Prevention Department of the Managers' London representatives (loss.prevention@simsl.com). A copy of the ICC-IMB report if required can be obtained on application via the link on their web-site (www.icc-ccs.org).

Information in this article which is based on ICC-IMB sources is reproduced with kind permission of ICC-IMB.