A Cyprus tanker disappeared recently near the waters off West Africa. Almost 18 vessels have been hijacked in these waters in this year, while no such cases were indicated last year. Statistics suggest that it is fast emerging as a hotbed of piracy.
The Cyprus tanker was never seen after it unloaded its oil cargo off Cotonou in Benin. The area around Benin seems particularly vulnerable as West Africa lacks the necessary enforcement capabilities. The adjoining neighbouring waters have increased water patrols and tightened the security which makes the waters near Benin all the more susceptible as they lack the infrastructure and resources to efficiently secure their waters.
Findings state that these vessels are heavily attacked with the threat of arms while cargo, property from the ships is stolen. It is assumed that the captains of the ships are forced to state all is fine by the pirates under threat of arms, thereby delaying naval patrols minimising the chance of deflecting pirate attacks.
The International Maritime Bureau cautions that pirate attacks over the world seas have doubled over the last year. The concentration of hijackings is high by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Eden, off East Africa. Moreover, they are armed with rocket propelled grenade launchers and other automatic weapons as opposed to the earlier knives. They are becoming bolder and are willing to take higher risks. Oil and shipping companies are more concerned about the hijackings off West Africa.
The hijackers’ attempts are hampered and less successful by the patrols carried out by the naval forces of international anti-piracy in the Gulf of Eden.