Nigerian pirates kidnap 8 people from tug and attack tanker

Posted on Apr 26, 2017

Niger Delta Pirates photo credit AFP

Photo Credit AFP

Nigerian pirates have attacked vessels in the Gulf of Guinea eleven times in 2017. The most recent attacks occurred on April 19, 2017. Two vessels were attacked. About 59 nautical miles SSW of Brass, nine pirates in a skiff approached a crude oil tanker.  They fired on the tanker, which sounded their alarm, turned their fire pumps on the pirates, increased speed, and conducted evasive maneuvers. Non-essential crew went to the citadel, and the master communicated with their escort vessel. The pirates aborted their attack. 

About 10 miles South of Brass, an offshore tug was attacked and boarded by armed pirates. The pirates kidnapped eight crewmembers and shot another. The injured crewmember was airlifted to receive medical treatment when the Nigerian Navy responded to the attack. The eight  crewmembers are still kidnapped. The nationalities and names of the kidnapped crewmembers, along with the vessel's name, aren't being released for security reasons. 

Nigerian pirates have kidnapped other people this year, including another group of eight people back in February. Then, a cargo vessel, the BBC Caribbean, was attacked on February 5, 2017, and eight of the crewmembers were kidnapped. The vessel was off the coast of Bayelsa. Seven of the kidnapped crewmembers are Russian, one is Ukrainian. The crewmembers were released in early March.

As attacks continue, the Director General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, told the Economic Community of West African States Parliament that the fight against piracy must be a collective responsibility of member states to be successful. While Nigeria and the other nations bordering the Gulf of Guinea give lipservice to ending piracy, the U.S. Department of State has reiterated that Nigeria's Navy has limited capabilities to respond to pirate attacks. The State Department also warns that, since Nigeria continues to push private security contractors out of the market, companies working in the Gulf of Guinea are at a very high risk of being attacked and having their employees kidnapped. In their 2017 Nigeria Crime and Safety Report, they write, "The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens in Nigeria to consider their own personal security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of their planning."

Victims of pirate attacks struggle to recover, and are often diagnosed with PTSD. Their physical scars and injuries may heal and fade, but they will never be able to put the trauma of their ordeals behind them. We have helped victims of both Nigerian and Somali pirate attacks be treated by world-class PTSD therapists and get any other medical help they need.

We have also helped piracy victims hold their employers accountable for failing to invest in industry-standard anti-piracy measures that would have prevented our clients from being kidnapped at all. Under the Jones Act, American companies have to ensure their vessels are retrofitted to keep their crews safe as they travel in piratre-infested waters. Some of these measures were used by the oil tanker that successfully defended itself against attack. Other defensive measures include hiring private security contractors, a safety measure that has a high success rate off the coast of Somalia. Unlike Somalia, Nigeria and other Gulf of Guinea nations have made it almost impossible for shipping companies to hire experienced private security contractors. Because the risk of being attacked and kidnapped by pirates is so high, some American companies have stopped working in the Gulf of Guinea in order to protect the safety of their employees. 

When American workers are kidnapped by Nigerian pirates, unfortunately, their companies aren't on their side. Victims of kidnapping will face recovering from their own trauma as well as a company that now sees them as a liability. Kidnapping victims aren't alone. Our team of Board Certified attorneys have the experience and the success rate to be able to help you. Contact us at 877-724-7800 now to get the help you need to get your life back.