Maritime Crime Figures for 2014

Dryad releases its stats for the year.

Maritime Crime Figures for 2014

Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea saw an overall reduction in the number of incidents in 2014: a decrease of 18% when compared to 2013. Despite this overall reduction, the year saw a marked increase in the number of attacks resulting in the kidnap of senior crew from support craft and commercial vessels trading in the region. Fourteen vessels had crew taken captive last year, compared to eight vessels having crew kidnapped the previous year. Just two of last year’s attacks occurred inside Nigeria’s 12 nautical mile (nm) territorial waters, with the remainder further offshore where protection from security vessels is less available. A further 14 unsuccessful attacks took place within the Nigerian exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Analysis suggests that the vast majority of these criminal gang attacks were aimed at the kidnap of crew, especially given the areas and weaponry involved. Effective defensive measures employed by crews and security teams meant that these 14 attacks were aborted and were not added to the already higher statistics for kidnap or cargo theft.

This form of maritime crime, a simple extension of a type of crime endemic in Nigeria, is likely to continue in 2015. Victims will likely be released unharmed as long as shipping companies and owners negotiate with the criminal gangs and pay the ransoms demanded. Whilst it is understandable that such ransoms are paid to secure the safe return of crew, such payments will encourage criminals to persist with this lucrative form of maritime crime.

Just three product tankers were hijacked for their cargo of fuel oil during 2014, another steady decrease from a total of five such incidents in 2013 and seven in 2012. The picture could have been a different one with a further five tankers unsuccessfully attacked by heavily armed gangs during the year. The smaller number of successful attacks was, however, overshadowed by a record demonstration of criminal gang reach when Niger Delta-based pirates hijacked the Liberian flagged tanker, MT Kerala, from its Angolan anchorage – some 900nm from Nigerian waters.

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