Reporting indicates that the MT MINERVA VIRGO is under attack 45nm South Cotonou. Reporting indicates that the vessel has been boarded by 5-6 individuals. Unconfirmed reporting indicates that the majority of crew have reached the citadel with one person still unaccounted for. This is an ongoing incident and Dryad will update this post as more information becomes available.
Vessels are advised to exercise extreme caution in this area.
This is the third boarding incident reported in the waters off Benin in 2020 and the second incident to be reported within 24hrs in close proximity. The last reported incident recorded as a suspicious approach, occurred 5hrs prior 50nm South Lomé. This latest incident is 31nm NE of a previous kidnapping incident from the ALPINE PENELOPE on the 20 February 20. It is assessed as highly likely that the perpetrators of both incidents are the same grouping and are highly likely to have originated from within Nigerian waters.
Since 2019 there has been an increase in maritime security incidents involving vessel boarding’s and kidnappings within the waters off Lomé and Togo. This is, in part, assessed to be due to the increased risks facing perpetrators within the Nigerian EEZ as a result of enhanced security coordination and the increasingly prevalent use of Security Escort Vessels. The is combined with an effective lack of coordinated security measures beyond the Nigerian EEZ has led to perpetrators to travel further in search of high yield targets.