US says pirate attack numbers are probably underreported

Vessels in the Gulf of Mexico have been urged to develop security protocols to prevent pirates from boarding after the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) said that pirate attacks on vessels and oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were being underreported.

In an advisory note, MARAD said that “a significant underreporting of attacks in this area is suspected. These attacks have involved the discharge of firearms, crew injuries, the taking of hostages and robberies”.

MARAD said that a minimum of 20 fishing vessels and 35 oil platforms had been attacked since 2018 in the Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico, with at least five attacks occurring in April.

During the morning of April 4th the Remas (IMO 9586459), an Italian pipe-laying vessel near Dos Bocas, Tabasco, was approached by eight armed men in a fast boat, prompting the captain to sound the alarm and lock down the vessel. The men opened fire on the ship but the captain was able to use his thrusters to prevent the pirates from coming alongside and boarding.

On April 8th seven armed men in two boats pulled up on another pipe-laying vessel near Dos Bocas and three of the pirates were able to board. but later fled.

The following evening eight armed pirates wearing masks managed to once again board the Remas near Dos Bocas, the third pirate attack in five months on that one vessel, taking crew members hostage and using them as human shields.

The armed men looted the ship, stealing the crew’s personal belongings and navigation equipment. Several shots were fired, but no injuries were reported.

On April 12th pirates attacked Offshore Tug/Supply Ship Maersk Transporter (IMO 9388649), a Denmark-flagged supply vessel located north of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, and took several crew members hostage as they looted the ship. The hostages were released when the pirates left.

Finally, on April 14th six pirates armed with automatic weapons and pistols boarded the barge Telford located north of Ciudad del Carmen and opened fire. One crew member was injured.

2011-built, Italy-flagged, 2,600 gt Remas is owned and managed by Micoperi SpA of Ravenna, Italy. It is entered with Gard AS on behalf of Micoperi SpA.

2009-built, Denmark-flagged, 4,678 gt Maersk Transporter is owned and managed by Maersk Supply Service AS of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is entered with Skuld (Skuld Offshore Business Unit) on behalf of Maersk Supply Service AS.