If pirates in West Africa are mainly concerned with stealing cargo, why are crews at risk in a pirate attack?

While it’s true that a majority of West African pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea is focused on stealing oil and gas cargo, it’s rarely a simple exchange of cargo for the safe passage of the crew. The pirates who attack oil vessels are usually violent, organized, armed, and willing to injure or kill anyone who stands between them and the lucrative cargo they’re after. And, unfortunately, many pirate organizations specifically aim to present a fearsome image to the public, meaning that unnecessary violence is often employed in attacks.  

Unguarded and unarmed vessels are a choice target for pirates, and vulnerable crewmembers on these ships have been seriously hurt or even killed in the course of recent attacks. Regardless of whether they attempt to resist or comply with the demands of their attackers, crews traveling through the Gulf of Guinea face serious dangers during a pirate attack or attempted attack.

Although, compared to pirates in other areas of the world, West African pirates are less interested in holding crewmembers for ransom, attacks are no less dangerous for crews—perhaps even more so. Individuals are still kidnapped from vessels that are attacked, but rather than simply being held until ransom is paid, these captives may be held, tortured, or killed by pirates as an intimidation tactic or to make a “statement.”

Pirate attacks put the lives and wellbeing of hard-working crewmembers at risk, and employers should be doing all they can to keep their crews safe in risky areas like the Gulf of Guinea. If you have been the victim of a pirate attack, reach out to our team today at 877-724-7800 for more answers and information about your legal rights.

Brian Beckcom
Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.