On 7 November 2020, two tankers were targeted by pirates in separate incidents off the coast of West Africa.

The ships have been identified as the chemical/product tanker Torm Alexandra operated by Danish shipping company Torm and the oil tanker Wesley, controlled by UK’s Union Maritime.

The first incident saw pirates boarding the 56,643 cbm Torm Alexandra some 162 nautical miles south of Cotonou, Benin, while in transit from Lomé, Togo, the Gulf of Guinea, Dryad Global said.

Following anti-piracy drills, all crew — comprised of 20 Filipinos and 1 Montenegrin — reached the citadel and have been reported safe.

“This is the 3rd vessel boarded since the 23rd October 20… With a further failed attempt it is highly likely that the perpetrators will increase in desperation in their attempts to secure their objective which remains most likely the kidnapping of crew for ransom,” the maritime security intelligence company said.

“As such the risk profile for the region is to be considered critical at this time with incidents assessed as highly likely / expected within days.”

Less than 24 hours following the boarding of Torm Alexandra, the Mashall Islands-flagged tanker M/T Wesley was approached whilst underway, 180 nautical miles south-southwest of Lagos, Nigeria, or some 53 nautical miles northwest of the country’s Agbami Terminal, Dryad further said.

A speed boat with seven armed pirates approached the 16,066 cbm tanker and came to within 250 metres.

The Master of Wesley undertook all security measures and all the crew took shelter in the citadel.

Armed guards onboard the 1995-built tanker fired three shots at the speed boat after which the pirates aborted their approach.

The vessel and the seafarers on board are reported safe and the tanker is continuing to its next port of call.

“This is the third incident in the waters off Bayelsa State with the previous two incidents occurring 107nm South of Lagos and 94nm South West Brass. Both previous incidents resulted in vessels boarded,” Dryad added

“Following the end of the SW Monsoon season, attacks are known to increase in frequency as conditions become more favourable.”

“Whilst incident volumes overall are showing a partial increase on those of 2019 there is a significant increase in the volume of kidnap incidents across a prolonged timeframe and corresponding numbers of personnel kidnapped.”

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