A group of armed men fired upon a containership underway some 19 nautical miles South West of Bayelsa, Nigeria, on Tuesday, January 21.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre said that around 15 armed persons chased the vessel in a speed boat before opening fire upon the ship.
The crew raised the alarm and the non-essential crew took shelter in the ship’s citadel.
“The vessel increased speed and the armed naval guard onboard returned fire, resulting in the skiff aborting the attack and moving away,” the piracy reporting centre added.
Both the vessel and its crew are reported to be safe.
The IMB did not reveal the name of the ship, however, AIS data points to MSC Grace being targeted by the pirates. MSC is yet to confirm the attack to World Maritime News.
The incident is the likely harbinger of the continuation of the piracy upsurge in the Gulf of Guinea.
The number of crew kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea increased by more than 50% from 78 in 2018 to 121 in 2019.
This equates to over 90% of global kidnappings reported at sea with 64 crew members kidnapped across six separate incidents in the last quarter of 2019 alone.
The region accounted for 64 incidents including all four vessel hijackings that occurred in 2019, as well as 10 out of 11 vessels that reported coming under fire, data from IMB indicates.