Skip to main content

2 seized in pirate attack off Nigeria, U.S. official says

By Barbara Starr and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
October 25, 2013 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "The danger there is extreme," one analyst says of coast off Nigeria
  • Two crew believed to be U.S. citizens were taken off a ship in Gulf of Guinea, U.S. official says
  • They are the ship's captain and chief engineer, the official says
  • Before attack, pirates had already seized 132 crew in Gulf of Guinea this year, group says

(CNN) -- Armed men stormed a boat off Nigeria's coast and took hostage two mariners believed to be U.S. citizens, a U.S. official said Thursday.

Pirates kidnapped the captain and chief engineer from a U.S.-flagged oil platform supply vessel in the Gulf of Guinea on Wednesday, the official said.

Details about the crew members' conditions and the condition of their ship, the C-Retriever, were not immediately available.

Louisiana-based Edison Chouest Offshore, which owns the vessel, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Two Americans kidnapped by pirates
Captain on 'extreme' danger of pirates

Travel by sea can be perilous in the region where the attack occurred, one analyst said Thursday.

"The danger there is extreme," said Capt. Don Marcus, president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots.

Partial amnesty for 'boy pirates'?

In the Gulf of Guinea, he told CNN's "The Lead," slow-moving vessels servicing oil platforms are more vulnerable to attacks than cargo ships traveling off the coast of Somalia, another area that's drawn attention for maritime piracy.

The Gulf of Guinea produces some 5.4 million barrels of oil a day, according to Chatham House. And about 30% of U.S. oil imports flow through the region, according to International Crisis Group.

The oil-rich area off the coast of West Africa has increasingly drawn international attention as a piracy hotspot, with 40 pirate attacks reported in the first nine months of 2013, the International Maritime Bureau reported.

A high-tech hunt for pirates

It also has been the site of the only ship crew kidnappings worldwide this year, with 132 crew members taken hostage.

Seven ships have been hijacked, the organization said.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea accounted for 30% of the 1,434 reported piracy attacks in African waters between 2003 and 2011 and the pace of attacks has risen since then, London-based think tank Chatham House reported in March.

Chatham House reported 62 pirate attacks in the gulf in 2012, up from 39 in 2010.

The think tank says it's partially because Western navies have cracked down on piracy off the coast of Somalia, on the other side of the continent. But it's unclear whether any troops will intervene after this week's attack in the Gulf of Guinea.

Somali pirates cost global economy $18 billion a year

The Nigerian Navy has directed its operational commands and bases to search and rescue the crew members and the vessel, spokesman Commodore Kabir Aliy said.

U.S. Marines are in the region aboard a Dutch ship off West Africa. Military forces from the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and five African nations recently held exercises in the region that were designed to strengthen maritime security, according to the U.S. Navy.

"We are seeking additional information about the incident so that we may contribute to safely resolving the situation," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Thursday. "Obviously our concern at this point is for the safe return of the two U.S. citizens."

Controversy surrounds Tom Hanks movie 'Captain Phillips'

Gunboats keep pirates from 'blue gold'

CNN's Vladimir Duthiers contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1720 GMT (0120 HKT)
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT)
About $35,000 was taken from the bank accounts of four passengers on board Flight 370.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1732 GMT (0132 HKT)
The execution of a journalist by a British-accented jihadist is a direct challenge to the international community. It's time for the U.S. to move, writes Frida Ghitis.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0904 GMT (1704 HKT)
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT