This is the second in a two part series on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The first ten weeks of 2014 have witnessed the resurgence of maritime kidnap-for-ransom off the coast of Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
Undated photo of MT Kerala
This is the first of a two-part series on piracy in West Africa.
In the early hours of 18 January 2014 a 75,000-ton tanker, the MT Kerala, vanished off the coast of Angola. A sophisticated pirate gang hijacked the Greek-owned vessel, disabling its identifications system and communication equipment, and painting over its identifying markers.
More than a week later and 1,300 miles away, the hijackers released Kerala off the coast of Nigeria, after offloading 12,270 tons of its diesel cargo to other ships. Read More
A scene from the USS Bataan (LHD 5) on Oct. 25, 2013. US Navy Photo
As American forces moved toward Japan in February 1945, the U.S. Marine Corps fought one of the most famous battles in our nation’s history on the island of Iwo Jima.
After four days of intense fighting, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal decided to leave the comforts of his quarters on Adm. R.K. Turner’s flagship, the amphibious force command ship Eldorado, to go ashore and witness firsthand the final stages of the Marine Corps’ success on the island. Read More
C-Escort, owned by Edison Chouest Offshore of Cut Off, La., is a sistership to the C-Retriever. American crew from the C-Retriever were kidnapped by Nigerian pirates on Oct. 23, 2013.
The kidnapping of two American mariners on Oct. 23 does not signal the rise of a new piracy threat off Nigeria, but rather the re-emergence of an old one
U.S. news outlets were quick to proclaim piracy is now “skyrocketing” off the West African nation.
But those types of blanket statements fail to capture the fluid nuances of maritime crime in the region, which has largely decreased in the past few years. Read More
Lt. Stephen Decatur with the crew of USS Enterprise on Dec 23, 1803, in a painting by Dennis Malone Carter.
In the early years of this nation, President Thomas Jefferson found himself involved in one of the first conflicts overseas in the First Barbary War.
Jefferson, one of the first true isolationists, was reluctant to deploy forces in foreign engagements. However, faced with the demanding security of our merchant fleet and the growing concerns regarding our fragile economy, Jefferson had no choice but to protect the free flow of commerce and deploy the Navy. Read More
Lt. j.g. Jeffrey Fasoli, gunnery officer aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87), discusses techniques with Chinese sailors aboard the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) destroyer Harbin on Aug. 24, 2013.
The U.S. and China conducted two days of counter piracy drills in the Gulf of Aden in a rare show of military cooperation, following last week’s visit of the head of the Chinese Ministry of Defense. Read More
Sailors watch as the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) departs Naval Station Norfolk for Newport News Shipbuilding in June 2013. US Navy Photo
In September 1960, the carrier Enterprise was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock. Adm. Arleigh Burke, then chief of naval operations, spoke to the large crowd, saying, “Whenever the Enterprise roams in the traditional freedom of the seas, she is the sovereign of the United States, a mighty symbol of our determination to preserve liberty and justice and a clear sign of our nation’s ability to do so.” Read More
A crew member prepares to board a tanker that was hijacked by pirates in Benin on 24 July 2011. UN Photo
The winds of global piracy have shifted, as attacks by pirates off West Africa now exceed those of their Somali counterparts. The Nigeria-based pirates may not yet inspire Hollywood films, but they have prompted regional governments to take collective action. A June 24–25 summit in Yaounde, Cameroon, brought representatives from the Economic Community of West African States, the Economic Community of Central African States, and the Gulf of Guinea Commission together to draft a code of conduct concerning the prevention of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activity. It has been signed by 22 states. Read More
Ukrainian Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, February 22, 2013. Atlantic Council Photo
When it comes to maritime security, piracy has become one of the most prevalent issues for NATO to deal with. In considering which nations are most involved in combating maritime piracy, Ukraine is probably not the first name that comes to mind. As it turns out, this non-NATO, non-EU Eastern European nation is heavily involved in the fight against piracy at sea. Ukraine has even become a valuable ally to NATO in anti-piracy campaigns, something not exactly expected from a nation so closely aligned with Russia on the geopolitical map. Read More
Cameroon navy Lt. j.g. Yves Itondo during Exercise Obangame Expressin February. The exercise is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations to promote maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea. US Navy Photo
Portions of this article were first published with OCEANUS Live
Pity the Somali pirates, who after an abysmal year in 2012, have only managed to (unsuccessfully) attack two vessels thus far in 2013. Piracy is now much more lucrative in West Africa, where there have been at least 10 reported attacks in the past month alone. In the waters of Nigeria, a dozen mariners from three separate vessels were kidnapped by pirates during a single 10-day period. Côte d’Ivoire had never witnessed the hijacking and large-scale robbery of an oil tanker before October 2012, but already has had two such vessels pilfered from its waters this year. Read More