Skip to main content

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

By Barbara Starr and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 25, 2013
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
updated 10:10 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
updated 9:01 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
updated 12:43 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
updated 3:01 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
updated 7:06 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Tucked away near the border with Cameroon, this poor corner of Nigeria is no stranger to such brazen, violent acts.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
An infant mountain Gorilla sits in the dense jungle canopy on the edge of Uganda's Bwindi National Park in this 29, January 2007 photo. Bwindi, or the 'Impenetrable Forest' as it is known to many tourists is home to the majority of Uganda's rare and endangered mountain gorilla population where plans are underway to habituate two more gorilla family groups to counter growing demand from a flourishing gorilla trek tourism business, a major source of income for the Uganda tourism Authority. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE. (Photo credit should read STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)
Tthe constant threat of poaching, deforestation and human diseases means the world's mountain gorillas could be completely wiped out.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Prince George takes a special interest in an Australian animal on a zoo trip.
updated 10:02 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
How could a teenage stowaway survive hours in a jet's sub-zero wheel well at 38,000 feet?
updated 12:28 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 6:58 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
See what life is like for superyacht stewardesses-in-training. One thing's for certain -- they can never say "no."
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Home of Bruce Lee, divine dim sum, lofty buildings, loftier real estate prices and easy access to the great outdoors.
ADVERTISEMENT