The Gulf of Guinea has recorded 39 pirate attacks between January and October 2021.
According to the Ghana Navy, the pirates have shifted their focus from hijacking oil vessels to kidnapping seafarers and demanding ransom.
The latest of such attacks happened on October 11, 2021, when personnel of the Ghana Navy successfully warded off an attempted pirate attack on a Tuna vessel off the south of Aflao.
Speaking in an interview, the Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Naval Command, Commodore Emmanuel Ayesu Kwafo assured that several security initiatives have been implemented to deal with the surge in these attacks.
“This year, there have been 39 cases of pirate attacks so far in the Gulf of Guinea. They are professional seafarers and they are heavily armed. This year, Ghanaian registered fishing vessels are falling prey to them. One strategy employed by the Navy now is to put armed personnel on the vessel. That is what we did, and our men were able to repel the attackers.”
Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea have become a noted criminal activity and have been of increasing concern to the maritime sector.
Recent attacks are becoming more widespread and violent.
In June 2020, a Ghanaian fishing vessel, the Panofi Frontier, was attacked and its crew taken hostage.
The vessel was fishing in Benin waters when it was attacked by the pirates, who captured six crew members; five Koreans and one Ghanaian.
A report, by the International Bureau on Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships, suggests that there were at least 10 separate piracy attacks off Ghana’s coasts between 2015 and 2019.
The Gulf of Guinea is noted as a hotspot for piracy, accounting for the vast majority of sea-going hostage seizures and kidnappings globally, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has said.
The bureau has noted that though piracy incidents have reduced in recent times “the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency.”
“It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted, and suspected incidents to ensure that an accurate picture of these attacks emerge and action is taken against these criminals before the incidents further escalate,” it warned.