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Gard warns of piracy spike in Gulf of Mexico

Posted on: 22 April 2020

In its alert Gard says the first three weeks of April 2020 have seen a high number of piracy attacks on offshore support vessels in the southern rim of the Gulf of Mexico we advise ships to exercise caution when operating in the region.

The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued an Alert on 17 April 2020 warning that a maritime threat had been reported in the vicinity of Ciudad Del Carmen and Dos Bocas, Mexico, in the Bay of Campeche area in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The nature of the threat was a series of four piracy incidents that took place between 4 April and 14 April 2020. All four incidents involved attacks on offshore support vessels, some involved crew injuries and theft.

Masters are therefore advised to exercise additional caution when their vessels are operating in or transiting the Ciudad del Carmen region.

The security situation in the Gulf of Mexico

Each MARAD alert reports on an immediate threat in a specific region at a given point in time and these alerts are therefore short lived. However, piracy and armed robbery incidents in the southern rim of the Gulf of Mexico is reportedly not uncommon. While the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center (IMB PRC) has recorded only four incidents in the Southern Gulf of Mexico in the previous 12 months, various media reports describe a steep increase in the number of attacks on maritime oil infrastructure in Mexico since 2016 – some even refer to an average of 16 attacks a month between January and September 2019. Although these numbers are unconfirmed, they do suggest that there could be a significant degree of under-reporting of incidents in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the incidents recorded by the IMB PRC, the perpetrators typically use small boats capable of reaching high speeds, are armed and tend to be violent. Their targets are mainly offshore support vessels and the organization has not recorded any attacks on larger commercial vessels in Mexico in the previous ten years. The modus operandi seems to be a maritime extension of organized crime as sophisticated equipment is often stolen and resold and crews are robbed.

Follow this link to read the alert in full.

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