1. Issue: This U.S. Maritime Advisory provides guidance to vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). U.S. flagged operators with vessels in the affected area are requested to forward this Advisory to their ships by the most expeditious means.
2. Pirates/armed groups operating in the GoG region continue to carry out attacks on vessels using automatic weapons. Hijackings of tankers for cargo theft (refined petroleum products), ship’s property, robbery of crew, and kidnappings for ransom (KFR) continue to be the most common threats. U.S. flagged operators with ships operating in or through the GoG Voluntary Reporting Area designated on Maritime Security Chart Q6114 at http://www.shipping.nato.int/nsc/media-centre/downloads/maritime-security-charts.aspx should transit with extreme caution and vigilance.
3. The majority of KFR operations in the Gulf of Guinea occur predominately around the Niger Delta with vessels (tankers, tugs, offshore supply vessels, and cargo vessels) frequently being targeted due to their high value foreign crewmembers. Pirates have used motherships to support operations up to 150 nautical miles offshore. Pirates/armed KFR groups have been known to fire upon targeted vessels prior to attempting to board them. KFR groups generally kidnap two to six high value crewmembers to include the master, chief engineer, and any Western crewmembers. Kidnapped crewmembers are normally taken ashore in the Niger Delta region, where KFR groups demand ransom payments in exchange for the crewmembers safe return.
4. Guidance: Additional information on this threat, including specific recommendations for vessels transiting the area, is available on the NATO Shipping Centre website at: http://www.shipping.nato.int/nsc/operations/global-maritime-risk/west-africagulf-of-guinea.aspx. U.S. flag vessels anchoring, transiting or operating in this region must comply with their U.S. Coast Guard approved Vessel Security Plans.
5. A Ship Hostile Action Report (SHAR) should be sent to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), in accordance with Pub 117, at the Submit Report link at http://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal as soon as possible following an incident or suspected activity (including apparent surveillance being conducted by small vessels/boats).
6. Mariners operating near this area are also advised to consult the Department of State Travel Warnings for this area at: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html.
7. Contact Information: The new Marine Domain Awareness for Trade-Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) is operated by the navies of France and the United Kingdom and serves as the regional reporting center for the GoG. MDAT-GoG can be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at +33(0)2 98 22 88 88. For any questions about this advisory, contact the MARAD Office of Maritime Security at: MaradSecurity@dot.gov. Supplemental information may also be found on the MARAD Office of Maritime Security website at: https://www.marad.dot.gov/environment-and-safety/office-of-security/.
8. Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels legacy MARAD Advisory 2013-5 (Gulf of Guinea) as well as Special Warnings 092 (Liberia) and 119 (Sierra Leone). This message will automatically expire on December 02, 2017.