GULF OF GUINEA 8TH – 14TH MAY 2010 WEEKLY INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY
GULF OF GUINEA
All times UTC unless otherwise stated
No1. 27th March – At 0055 UTC, two robbers boarded a crane ship at anchor from the stern at the Pointe Noire anchorage, Congo When sighted, the crew shouted at the robbers who immediately escaped with ship’s stores. No casualties have been reported.
No2. 28th March -0545 UTC, the Ghanaian flagged MV Seagull was attacked whilst transiting the Calabar River. The vessel was boarded by a party of armed men who approached in three motorboats. The gang stole ship and crew property before leaving, taking the master of the attacked vessel and the chief engineer with them, the captives have since been released.
No3. 12th April -1215 UTC, three pirates armed with automatic rifles in a fibreglass motor boat approached a drifting container ship at Lagos roads, Nigeria. Having been sighted by the Duty officer, the alarm was raised and the crew enforced anti-piracy measures and took evasive manoeuvres. The pirates aborted the attempted boarding due to the alertness of the crew. Port authority and ships in vicinity were informed.
No4. 24th April – Robbers boarded a tanker at anchor in Boma, Democratic Republic of Congo. They stole ship’s property and escaped unnoticed.
No5. 27th April -2145 UTC, The 3/O on a product tanker noticed a vessel approaching from port bow on radar. When spotlights were directed at the boat, it came to a halt before turning towards another vessel. Later, the boat approached the product tanker once more from astern. Sighted by the crew the alarm was raised. The pirates opened fire at the tanker before attempting to board however the attack was successfully subverted due to razor wire around the vessel deck and the constant manoeuvring of the ship. All ships in the vicinity informed via VHF. No injuries to crew were reported.
No6. 4th May – At 0200 UTC, a party of seven men armed with knives and fire arms boarded an unidentified bulk carrier whilst at anchor. During the course of the attack, they assaulted two members of crew including the vessel master. The armed gang damaged ship equipment before escaping with crew belongings. The vessel was at anchor in position 06:17.9N – 003:21.5E.
No7. 7th May – At 0600 hours UTC, a vessel identified as the MV Atlantic Clipper was reportedly attacked within 17NM of Bonny Island. Shots were fired at the vessel but as yet it is not known whether the vessel was boarded or whether casualties were sustained. The vessel was in position: 04-10N & 007-17E.
|VISIBILITY||MOD||PREDICTED RADAR PERFORM||MOD||NIGHT VISION AID||MOD||THERMAL IMAGERS||MOD||AMBIENT LIGHT LEVELS||POOR|
|RH (AVG)||80%||SEA CLUTTER||MOD||RAIN CLUTTER||MOD||CLOUD COVER||60-90%||WAVE HEIGHT||1.0-1.3m|
|SOLAR/ LUNAR EVENTS|
|Average Sun Rise||0632 UTC||Average Sun Set||1856 UTC||Average Moon Rise||0336 UTC||Average Moon Set||1603 UTC|
Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
|PIRACY OFFSHORE||HIGH||TERRORISM||MOD||HUMAN TRAFFICKING||MOD||SMUGGLING||LOW|
|PIRACY IN CREEKS / INSHORE||HIGH||TERRORISM||HIGH||HUMAN TRAFFICKING||LOW||SMUGGLING||LOW|
|ONSHORE ASSESSMENT (This assessment is based on assumptions and the reported facts above. If the situation changes significantly then the assessment below may not be entirely valid.)|
Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as President of Nigeria on Thursday May 6th just hours after the death of the incumbent leader Umaru Yar’Adua. After taking oath of office in a ceremony overseen by Chief Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, Jonathan declared seven days of mourning during which flags will fly at half mast. Yar’Adua has been flown back to his home state of Katsina and buried with full military honours. Yar’Adua had been absent from his role since mid November 2009 due to persistent health problems, in a move to end months of political stalemate and to confront concerns regarding a ‘leaderless’ state, Vice President Jonathan was empowered by the senate as ‘Acting President’ in February. The first duty of the new President will be to nominate a new Vice President who has to be approved by the senate. In a brief address following the swearing in ceremony held at the Presidential Palace in Abuja, Goodluck Jonathan promised to fulfil Yar’Adua’s mandate, specifically addressing the issues of electoral reform, corruption and the Niger Delta crisis. In a move that may anger lingering Yar’Adua supporters, Jonathan failed to attend the funeral nor was an explanation given to explain his absence. Tensions have been repeatedly evident in the ruling People’s Democratic Party during Jonathan’s tenure at the helm, when the Acting President removed Yar’Adua’s cabinet on 17th March in a move to secure his authority, protests were publically lodged by several members of the ruling party questioning the legitimacy of such a move. Goodluck Jonathan will serve the remainder of the current term as President before the 2011 elections due to be held before April, though it is not known whether Jonathan intends to seek party backing to run for a full term in the next parliament. During an interview with CNN during the President’s recent visit to the United States, Jonathan neither confirmed nor denied rumours that he intends to contest the party power sharing agreement that prevents his candidacy during the forthcoming Presidential elections. The party is currently divided between the Muslim north and Christian south in order to regulate contention and ensure fairness, Yar’Adua was the first party leader elected specifically from the north. The power sharing agreement that has evolved rotates the presidential nominee between candidates from the north and south. The tenure of Jonathan Goodluck, a Christian southerner amid claims from some PDP supporters that he intends to run as President in the 2011 elections has led to an outcry among certain northern party heavy weights who maintain that the Presidency still belongs to a candidate from the north.
Italian energy company Eni Spa reported a loss of production at an Agip operated oil field at Brass River in the Niger Delta due to potential militant activity on April 28th. When contacted, a spokesman confirmed on condition of anonymity that the disruption caused a loss of 12’000 barrels of production per day, a loss of such extent that the company were forced to declare force majeure. On April 29th a militant group in the Niger Delta known as the Joint Revolutionary Council stepped forward to claim responsibility for the oil field damage sustained at Brass River. In an online statement, the group’s spokesperson confirmed the attack on the Agip oil field alongside a second successful attack on a Royal Dutch Shell PLC pipeline in Buguma near Port Harcourt on April 28th.
Shell has denied militant claims of a successful attack on an established pipeline in the Niger Delta, though there is previous evidence to suggest refutation of such a claim is standard operating procedure of the conglomerate whether or not an attack has occurred. What remains clear however is the existence of groups within the region with the intent and capacity to act on their threats. The amnesty agreement put in place by Yar’Adua has arguably come to a halt, hindered by the absence of its primary architect despite contrary claims by current president Goodluck Jonathan. Foreign nationals operating across the energy industry in Nigeria should remain on heightened alert and employ extensive security measures to mitigate the risk of being targeted.
|OFFSHORE ASSESSMENT (This assessment is based on assumptions and the reported facts above. If the situation changes significantly then the assessment below may not be entirely valid.)|
Two attacks of significance have been reported in the Gulf of Guinea during the past week; firstly on the 4th May a party of seven men armed with knives and fire arms boarded an unidentified bulk carrier whilst at anchor. During the course of the attack, they assaulted two members of crew including the vessel master. The armed gang damaged ship equipment before escaping with crew belongings. The vessel was at anchor in position 06:17.9N – 003:21.5E, this is the third attack off shore of Lagos in three weeks. The second attack allegedly occurred at 0600 hours on the 7th May, a cargo vessel identified as the MV Atlantic Clipper (see right) was fired upon, 17 nautical miles off Bonny Island. Further information regarding this incident is unknown at present however the area in which the attack occurred is one of extreme risk from piracy or armed robbery from local criminal groups. Dryad predictions regarding the impact of weather on the likelihood of piracy have proved to be correct; vessels should remain on heightened alert during transit in Gulf of Guinea waters as weather conditions are currently conducive to potential attacks.
Mariners should be aware of specific risk areas which are detailed below. The main concentration of Piracy/Robbery within the area is:
- Within a 60Nm Semi Circle area based on the Northern tip of Bonny Island (04:32N 007:12E)
- Within the Port anchorages of Lagos (06:22N 003:26E) (Nigeria).
- Around the Nigerian waters of the Bakassi Peninsula,
- Within a hundred nautical miles of Conraky, Guinea.
HEIGHTENED RISK (These areas are affected but not as consistently as the area above.)
- Within a 40NM semi circle area based on Okumbiri (04:18N 005:59E) (Nigeria).
- Within the Port anchorages of Lome (06:05N 001:16E) (Togo).
- Around the Port anchorages of Accra (05:34N 000:00E) (Ghana).
- Offshore of Kribi (02:55N 009:62E) (Cameroon).
- Within the Douala Anchorage (03:53N 009:32E) (Cameroon)
Vessels in transit through the Gulf should be aware that the threat from piracy and armed robbery most especially in the littoral waters of Nigeria is second only to Somalia. Hybrid piracy as it has been termed is characterised by a persistent use of firearms, and to an extent, violence when perpetrators are met with resistance. Typical incidents include the theft of crew cash, belongings and costly ship equipment. Vessels in the area have established means to dissuade such attacks, the deployment of razor wire around the deck edges and access hatches is a popular tool also endorsed by some vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. Mariners face a threat from hybrid piracy underway, drifting or at anchor. There are consistent examples of attacks on different types of vessels from container ships to crane vessels thus the threat is comprehensive to all marine traffic. Armed robbery on ships alongside in ports including Lagos and Port Harcourt is also a predominant threat. In the majority of incidents reported in the last quarter, criminal perpetrators have been heavily armed and approach in small fast vessels that are difficult to identify as a threat from more than 300 yards. Militant groups in the troublesome Niger Delta such as MEND possess maritime activity however this threat is largely confined to the littoral waters of the Niger Delta. MEND tactics have included a Swarm based attacks in which the militants use several high powered vessels to quickly hit a series of targets in succession. These vessels are highly manoeuvrable and operate together. MEND’s primary tactic of disrupting operations in the Niger Delta region has proved successful. Vessels should be aware that the Nigerian Navy and Coastguard do not possess the capacity to respond to all reported incidents. The product tanker attacked on the 27th April reported the attack to the Port Authorities at Lagos Harbour however no response was received.
Winds will be variable, predominantly from the WSW at the weekend before resuming a SW path, wind speed at 3 -7 knots with an average of 5. The sea will be from the SSW with a small long period swell of 1.0 – 1.3M with a sea state of 3. Heavy cloud cover expected with a high probability of thunderstorms and rain. Relative humidity will be high with an average of 80%; X-Band Radar ranges should be detrimentally affected, careful manual application of anti clutter controls is recommended as not to lose small contacts in rain clutter. Visibility will be moderate up to 10NM though subject to reduction in regular heavy showers and haze.
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