Pirates target two tankers in Gulf of Guinea


Two vessels have been attacked by pirates; one in the Gulf of Guinea and the other just outside of it, possibly by the same pirate group.

On 6 February, 133 nautical miles north-east of São Tomé and Príncipe, the Marshall Island flagged chemical tanker Sea Phantom was attacked and boarded by pirates. The chemical tanker was underway from Lomé, Togo when she was attacked 90 nautical miles west of Bata, Equatorial Guinea, within the eastern boundaries of the São Tomé and Príncipe exclusive economic zone. According to Praesidium International, the crew managed to retreat to into the citadel as the vessel was successfully boarded by pirates. Eight men are believed to still be onboard.

On 7 February, the Cameroonian Navy Ship CNS Dipikar (P107) was dispatched from Idenau to intercept the Sea Phantom. The vessels met some 12 nautical miles east of Bioko Island within the Equatorial Guinea exclusive economic zone. The Sea Phantom resumed her voyage on a north-western course shortly after.

On 8 February, 75 nautical miles west south-west of Port-Gentil, Gabon, just outside the Gulf of Guinea, the Bahamas-flagged tanker Seaking, was approached and attacked by men on a single speedboat. The speedboat was seen being launched from a larger craft. Ladders were used during the unsuccessful boarding attempt. The vessel and crew are reported to be safe. Praesidium International suggest that the attack on Sea Phantom, further north, was likely by the same pirate group.

The general area where the Sea Phantom was attacked has not seen pirate action for several years. The last recorded attack being a failed boarding attempt in February 2016. Dryad Global note this is the ninth offshore incident this year and the fourth recorded offshore boarding for the West Africa region. Total incidents throughout West Africa in 2020 showed an increase of 12% on those of 2019. Incidents involving failed approaches showed a significant increase in 2020 with 25 such incidents recorded opposed to ten in 2019.