The kidnapping of maritime personnel in west Africa is a rising trend, which experts expect to continue. “During 2011 to 2013 [the number of] kidnappings rose, and we foresee that this trend will continue – we will see more kidnappings in the future,” said Hallvard Flesland of the NATO Shipping Centre, speaking at SMi’s International Port Security conference in London (4-5 June).
His figures are supported by maritime consulting company Gray Page. A recent briefing from the company reported that “kidnap for ransom increased by 85% 2013 compared with the levels recorded in 2012”. But Flasland said NATO’s figures showed that other crimes – vessel hijacks and vessels boarded by maritime criminals – had both halved from 2011 to 2013.
The kidnapping of senior crew off West Africa has been a serious problem in 2014. In February, Neptune attempted to publicise the issue and, as a result, several others picked up the baton and a series of articles was published in an attempt to draw attention to a widespread problem which was not being reported. By March, it was estimated that more than 20 crew had been kidnapped by armed gangs. Exact figures are extremely hard to come by, due to the reticence many shipping companies have about discussing maritime crime in the region.
Due to the nature of the region, it is not possible for shipping companies to deploy teams of armed Western guards to protect vessels. However, Neptune is able to offer Maritime Liaison Officers who work with local teams to ensure the protection of crew and ship whilst transiting these dangerous waters. For more information, please click here.