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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
MSCI Advisory

2018-011-Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom


This revised advisory cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2018-004

  1. Reference: U.S. Maritime Alert 2018-003A
  2. Issue: Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom continues to serve as a significant threat to U.S. flagged operators with vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
  3. According to the Office of Naval Intelligence’s “Piracy Analysis and Warning” website (, over 120 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea occurred in the GoG region in 2017. There have been 66 incidents in 2018, a 94 percent increase from the same time period in 2017. Attacks, kidnappings for ransom (KFR), and boardings to steal valuables from the ships and crews are the most common types of incidents. While there were 30 kidnapping incidents in 2017, no tankers were hijacked for cargo theft (refined petroleum products) in 2017. To date in 2018, there have been 13 kidnapping incidents and four incidents where product tankers were possibly hijacked for cargo theft. U.S. flagged operators with ships operating in or through the GoG Voluntary Reporting Area designated on Maritime Security Chart Q6114 at should transit with extreme caution and vigilance.
  4. Most KFR operations in the GoG occur around the Niger Delta and target vessels (tankers, tugs, offshore supply vessels, and cargo vessels) with expatriate crew due to their potentially high ransom value. Motherships have been used to support operations up to 150 nautical miles offshore. Criminals/armed KFR groups have been known to fire upon targeted vessels prior to attempting to board them. KFR groups generally kidnap two to six high value crewmembers to include the master, chief engineer, and any Western crewmembers. Kidnapped crewmembers are normally taken ashore in the Niger Delta region where KFR groups demand ransom payments in exchange for the safe return of the crewmembers. In 2018, two hijackings occurred off Benin, three off Ghana, and one off Equatorial Guinea.
  5. Guidance: Additional information on this threat, including specific recommendations for vessels transiting the area, is available on the NATO Shipping Centre website at: U.S. flag vessels anchoring, transiting or operating in this region must comply with their approved Vessel Security Plans.
  6. Mariners operating near this area are also advised to consult the Department of State Travel Warnings for this area at:
  7. Contact Information: The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade-Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) is operated by the navies of France and the United Kingdom. This center receives reports, shares important updates, provides guidance on vessel operating patterns, and reviews security risks with the Gulf of Guinea maritime community. Note that MDAT-GoG does not coordinate responses to vessels under attack. MDAT-GoG can be contacted via email at: or telephone at +33(0)2 98 22 88 88. For any questions about this advisory, contact the MARAD Office of Maritime Security at: Supplemental information may also be found on the MARAD Office of Maritime Security website at:
  8. Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2017-004 and will automatically expire on January 19, 2019.