Gulf of Guinea a piracy black box. HotLine for piracy reports.

May 9, 2013 at 10:06 by Mikhail Voytenko in Maritime Security

Gulf of Guinea presently is a black box with regards to piracy risks. We know very little of what’s going on there. My fellow seamen working there tell me they’re mad at the way responsible maritime bodies and media present the situation in the region to the public. Most of the cases of the attacks remain unknown, not to mention the details of the attacks. Some serious changes are going on, and in general, situation is worsening.

Pirates relocate their activities further to the sea and started hunting for the container ships, apparently armed by intelligence as to the vessels’ routes and probably, their cargoes, too. They’ve been controlling the boxship City of Xiamen for some 24 hours, they broke in citadel, and later it was said they just robbed the crew and took the hostages. Is it all they’ve been after? What about citadels, recommended by everybody around, from Navies to IMO? Private securities said long time ago, that top break in citadel is not a big deal, providing the pirates have some expertise and ammunition. Somalia pirates didn’t manage it, much more sophisticated Nigeria pirates seem to get the required skills, and the question now is, how risky is citadel for the crews? Will the pirates take their anger out on crew for its resistance?

As of May 9, after the attack on May 4, reefer Frio Athens is still somewhere in the middle of Gulf of Guinea, performing erratic movements, with no information on what’s on, except reassurances from the operator of the vessel, that everything is under control. Is it?

The lack of information is due to one sad simple fact – nobody is interested in revealing the truth about the scale of Gulf of Guinea piracy, and risks it draws upon crews.

The shipping companies are afraid of possible repercussion if they publish the detailed information (any information, actually) on the piracy accidents. They’re afraid of the authorities of coastal States, especially so if their vessels work in region on a constant basis, and let’s not forget about near disastrous freight market, which makes each charter much more precious than it is in better days. Also, they fear the reaction of their own crews, which is to be predictable negative, with maybe, mass refusals to sail to Gulf of Guinea.

Maritime bodies, from IMO and Round Table to ITF and affiliates, don’t want too much noise, let alone actions. They don’t want to stand up against coastal States, major oil and shipping companies, and of course, the UN, where many of the key positions are occupied by natives of Third World countries, including African countries.

The only party interested in the publicity is the crews who work there, on regular or random basis. The only way to radically improve shipping protection is the legalization of the armed guards throughout the world, by means of international convention. Until then, situation in the Gulf may be improved by making it public, by drawing public attention. It requires information on all the cases of piracy, with as many details as possible. Even the complacent major media, a far cry from what it claims it is, will have to react. And with publicity, goes the reaction. It will curb piracy in the region, at least temporarily.

Maritime Bulletin opens a Piracy HotLine, asking seamen in the region to report pirates attacks and to share their experiences. HotLine address:


Voytenko Mikhail

May 9 13

Gulf of Guinea a piracy black box. HotLine for piracy reports.

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