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MSCI Advisory

2020-002-Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom


This revised advisory cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2019-010

1. Reference: None.

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 “Shipping Threat Reports” website at, 129 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea occurred in the GoG region in 2019. This is an 11 percent decrease from 2018, but kidnappings were at the highest level recorded in the last 11 years. Attacks, kidnappings for ransom (KFR), and boardings to steal valuables from ships and crews are the most common types of incidents, with the majority of incidents taking place off Nigeria. There were 33 kidnapping incidents in 2019, two of which involved crewmembers being taken from hijacked vessels when pirates disembarked. Three out of the six hijacked vessels in 2019 were petroleum tankers, likely being hijacked for cargo theft (refined petroleum products). 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. Almost half of 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 KFR 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, but there were several incidents over the past couple of years where more than ten crewmembers were kidnapped during a boarding. 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 2019, pirates hijacked vessels off Nigeria, Togo, and Equatorial Guinea.

5. Guidance: Mariners transiting this area should visit the new Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade-Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) website at (does not currently load in Internet Explorer browsers) and the NATO Shipping Centre website at for additional information on threats and specific recommendations for their vessels. 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. All suspicious activities and events must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 800-424-8802 in accordance with 33 CFR 101.305.

8. Contact Information: 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 maritime industry questions about this advisory, contact Supplemental information may also be found on the MARAD Office of Maritime Security website at

9. Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2019-010 and will automatically expire on July 12, 2020.

For more information about U.S. Maritime Alerts and Advisories, including subscription details, please visit