11 November 2020 2100UTC
03° 01.8N 002° 42.0E
198nm South Cotonou
128.6 x 20.4 m
Reporting indicates that the Marshall Islands flagged Chemical tanker VALLEY OAK (IMO9438145) was approached deep offshore Benin.
Vessel reported being approached by a “fishing” vessel with proper navigation lights at an estimated speed of 16.5kts. The vessel attempted to close down the VALLET OAK who conducted evasive manoeuvres before aborting its approach. Vessel and crew safe.
This is the 7th reported incident within the Gulf of Guinea within 7 days and the 5th within waters off Benin. Incidents remain focused on the waters south of Cotonou with a second area in the waters SW Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Despite the prevalence of attacks within these areas, the threat remains fluid and attack locations are liable to alter depending upon traffic density.
Screenshot from our Atlas Inform platform
It is apparent that two or more PAG’s are operating most likely with the intent of conducting kidnap for ransom operations. Whilst the pirates retain both the capability and intent to target larger vessels, it is highly likely that smaller vessels presenting more opportune targets will become more desirable as time goes on and the risk to the perpetrators increases. The perpetrators are likely to be aware that increased time at sea with both the Beninese and Nigerian Navies as well as international Naval vessels belonging to the Italian and Portuguese Navies operating on high alert will significantly increase their own risk. As such it is highly likely that incidents will continue.
All vessels operating within the area are encouraged to operate at the highest levels of vigilance and deploy full hardening / mitigation measures where possible. The risk profile for the wider Gulf of Guinea region at this time is CRITICAL with attacks assessed as highly likely / expected daily.