Reporting indicates that the Container vessel MAERSK TEMA while underway from Pointe Noir to Lagos is currently under attack 90nm NW Sao Tome. Two unknown men are believed to have boarded the vessel and two skiffs were seen in the vicinity of the attack. Further reporting suggests that the crew members have reached the citadel.
The vessel is currently drifting 200nm SW Bonny and 40nm SE of the Eastern fringe of the Nigerian EEZ.
This latest incident sits 40nm SE of a boarding incident on 31 Dec 19 where the Bulk carrier VINALINES MIGHTY was boarded by three pirates. This latest incident is the 5th incident to occur within the Nigeria – Sao Tome JDZ since November 2019.
It is assessed that after a brief hiatus, pirates have returned to an area that saw considerable success within 2019. Pirates operating within this area are assessed to be seeking to exploit the relative lack of established security presence in the waters beyond the Nigerian EEZ. Pirates have shown a capability and intent to attack large vessels underway indicating a high degree of confidence and capability. It is assessed as highly likely that pirates operating within this area have originated from within Nigeria and are likely to do so with support from a larger vessel. The conduct of deep offshore pirate operations beyond the Nigerian EEZ was a significant feature of West African piracy throughout 2019.