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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

2021-002-Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom


This revised advisory cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2020-012

1. Reference: None.

2. Issue: Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom (KFR) 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, 97 reported incidents of piracy and
armed robbery at sea occurred in the GoG region last year as of 22 Dec 2020. This is a 24
percent decrease in the total number of incidents from the same period in 2019, with the number
of kidnappings and hijackings declining 16 percent. While boardings and attempted boardings to
steal valuables from ships and crews are the most common types of incidents, almost a third of
all incidents involve a hijacking and/or kidnapping. Approximately 51 percent of all incidents of
piracy and armed robbery are taking place off Nigeria, which is a decrease from the 71 percent in
2019 and indication pirates are traveling further to target vessels. In 2020, there were 27 kidnappings, three hijackings/kidnapping combinations, and two hijackings in the GoG. U.S. flagged operators with ships operating in or through the GoG Voluntary Reporting Area designated on Maritime Security Chart Q6114 (chart info available at should transit with extreme caution and vigilance.

4. In 2020, pirates and armed robbers operated off nine countries in the Gulf of Guinea (Nigeria,
Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Sao Tome and Principe, and
Gabon) targeting a variety of vessels to include tankers, container ships, general cargo vessels,
fishing vessels, passenger vessels, and numerous vessels supporting oil drilling/production.
Criminals/armed KFR groups have used motherships to support operations up to 200 nautical
miles from shore. It is not uncommon for these groups to fire upon vessels during boardings and
attempted boardings. 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 ten or more crewmembers were kidnapped at one
time. 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.

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. Additionally, the recently issued “Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy
and Enhance Maritime Security Off the Coast of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea”
(available under the Geography – Gulf of Guinea pull-down menu at provides additional guidance and resources for
operating in this area.

6. Mariners operating near this area are also advised to consult the Department of State Travel
Advisories for this area at

7. All suspicious activities and events involving US vessels or persons must be reported to the
U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 800-424-8802 in accordance with 33 CFR

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 2020-012 and
will automatically expire on July 7, 2021.

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