attacked sub-Panamax container ship MSC Mandy, off the coast of Cotonou, Benin

Isaac Ombe.

Six crew members have been reported missing after pirates reportedly attacked sub-Panamax container ship MSC Mandy, off the coast of Cotonou, Benin.

Global Container Shipping Company (MSC) which confirmed the attack said it took place Wednesday when the 2,700 TEU Mandy was under way in the Gulf of Guinea and boarded at a position about 55 nm offshore. Six crew members have been reported missing.

According to MSC, the vessel was quickly secured after the attack, and the safety of the other seafarers on board has been assured. The Mandy diverted to an anchorage off Lagos, Nigeria after the incident, where she remained Thursday.

Maritime Executive reports that the attack was first reported by the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG), a NATO partnership, operated by the French and British navies. MDAT-GoG collects daily voluntary reports from vessels under way in the Gulf of Guinea, an area with high piracy risk.

Maritime piracy – particularly kidnapping – is a serious concern in the Gulf of Guinea. According to Oceans Beyond Piracy, 100 seafarers were kidnapped in the waters off the Gulf of Guinea in 2017, and EOS Risk Group counted 35 more in the first half of 2018 alone.

Last month, the IMB ICC piracy reporting center was informed of one attempted attack on a chemical tanker and one successful boarding of an OSV under way, both off Nigeria.

Millions of dollars have been spent on additional maritime security measures for the region, but local authorities have had only limited success in interdicting and foiling attacks.

In a concerning trend, the reach of Nigerian pirates has expanded from the historic center of activity off the Niger River Delta to include waters off Benin and Ghana, as well to the west.

Despite this expansion, most attacks are still concentrated in the vicinity of the petroleum hub of Bonny Island, with pirates searching out vessel targets as far as 100 nautical miles from shore.