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 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
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.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
ADVERTISEMENT