By Tom Clarke
Recent reports from throughout the maritime industry indicate that Nigerian Pirates Receive 2 Million Ransom. The upwards of $2 million ransom was paid to Nigerian pirates for the release of two U.S. mariners who were kidnapped from the Edison Chouest supply vessel C-RETRIEVER in the Gulf of Guinea. Pirates attacked the vessel on October 23rd while it serviced oil rigs in the region off the Nigerian coast.
While it is the policy of the U.S. government to not make ransom payments, this deal was purportedly struck by a third party negotiator, presumably a representative of an insurance conglomerate or law firm. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) acknowledges arranging for the release of the two U.S. sailors from Nigeria. The company operating the supply vessel, Edison Chouest, is not responding to inquiries.
Because offshore supply vessels (OSVs) are smaller than the typical ocean-going merchant cargo ship, they present unique challenges in terms of piracy defense. With increased pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea and more aggressive tactics it is imperative that vessels operating in the region take stock of appropriate piracy defense methods. In all reported cases, privately armed security personnel have provided sufficient deterrence to pirate attacks. For vessel operating companies concerned about the expense of armed security personnel, this hefty ransom payment should serve as notice that, as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.