Raising security in the Gulf of Guinea

Raising security in the Gulf of Guinea

21-01-2021 12:00:00

With the appointment of a new special representative for maritime security, the government is demonstrating that Denmark is taking the lead in securing the right to free navigation. Not least in the Gulf of Guinea, where there have been several pirate attacks on Danish ships.

The Danish government is now taking a very concrete step in the fight to curb piracy.

In particular, the Gulf of Guinea, west of Africa, is being plagued by pirate attacks, with more than 95% of all kidnappings at sea last year. In recent months, three Danish merchant ships have been attacked.

Danish Shipping has been in constant dialogue with the government about this serious situation, and so the CEO of TORM and Chairman of Danish Shipping, Jacob Meldgaard, is both happy and grateful about today's announcement that a new special representative for maritime security has been appointed.

He says:

“There is reason to acknowledge that the government has thrown itself wholeheartedly into a very difficult and serious issue. After several attacks on Danish ships, there has been good, serious dialogue about the security situation in the Gulf of Guinea, and the decision to appoint a special representative for maritime security shows that Denmark as a maritime nation is at the forefront of combating piracy. It is certainly worrying having to send seafarers into an area that we know to be badly affected by piracy. Seafarers must be able to carry out their work without fear of being attacked or kidnapped.”

The Gulf of Guinea is undoubtedly the most dangerous waters to sail in. Denmark currently has a liaison officer in the area.

The new special representative for maritime security is Jens-Otto Horslund and, together with this appointment, Denmark is increasing support for the fight against maritime crime by DKK 10 million.

After a number of meetings with, inter alia, Danish Shipping, Minister of Defence Trine Bramsen has announced that she is trying to obtain support for a military initiative in the Gulf of Guinea. The new representative will play an important role in this work.

Anne H. Steffensen, CEO of Danish Shipping, says:

“It takes both legwork and diplomatic knuckle to gain support for a strengthened military initiative in the Gulf of Guinea, and therefore I am incredibly pleased that the government is now taking an important step along the way by allocating more funds and appointing a special representative for maritime security. Denmark cannot stand alone with the task of securing the right to free navigation in the Gulf of Guinea, and the new ambassador will play a crucial role in gaining support for an internationally-led operation.”

Source: Danish Shipping

Facts about the Gulf of Guinea:

More than 95% of all kidnappings at sea last year took place in the Gulf of Guinea.
A total of 130 kidnappings were recorded*, the highest number the International Maritime Bureau has ever seen in the area.
In 2019, 121 kidnappings were registered* in the Gulf of Guinea, and in 2018 there were 78 kidnappings*.
In addition, there has been a high number of incidents in which ships have been attacked and pirates may have come on board, but where the crew was not kidnapped.
In January, MAERSK CARDIFF was attacked south of Nigeria.
In December 2019, MAERSK CADIZ was attacked by pirates in almost exactly the same spot.
In November 2020, TORM ALEXANDRA was attacked.
In all three cases, the crews fortunately escaped physically unharmed from the incidents with the help of Nigerian and Italian warships.
The Danish Defence Intelligence Service states in its latest risk assessment for 2020 that the underlying causes of piracy are not expected to change for the better in the short to medium term. Nor do they expect Nigeria and the other countries to be able to intervene effectively against the pirates.
Kidnappings calculated by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)

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