3429780605?profile=RESIZE_710xMaritime reporting[1] indicates that merchant vessels M/V VICTORY C and M/V MARMALAITA have been illegally boarded when anchored at the entry of Wouri River, Douala, Cameroon.  As of 15 August 2019, the number of perpetrators is unknown, however reporting suggests all were armed with AK47 rifles.  A distress signal was sent from one of the two vessels.  It is believed that a Cameroonian Naval vessel responded to the scene to support the vessels under attack.  On arrival at the scene it was discovered that a number of crew members were unaccounted for from both vessels. The missing sailors are presumed kidnapped. 

Initially, Russian media is reporting that the Russian Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon said authorities and representatives of a ship owner are making steps to establish the circumstances of the incident. Russian diplomats are cooperating actively with competent Cameroonian agencies and ship owners to promote the urgent release of the Russian nationals," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.  According to the ministry, on 15 August 2019, pirates attacked Dutch ship owner Ultrabulk's cargo vessel M/V MARMALAITA, sailing under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda, near Cameroon's Douala port.  The ministry added, citing Marlow Navigation, a Russian company, that the pirates kidnapped eight crew members, including three Russian nationals.

Later reporting on 16 August 2019 explain that Nigerian pirates adbucted nine (9) Chinese and eight (8) Ukrainian seamen in attacks on the two merchant vessels indicated off Cameroon.  A Cameroonian security official, likewise speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the account to French media.  This event is still on going. 

3429768183?profile=RESIZE_710xFigure 1.  M/V VICTORY C

3429768709?profile=RESIZE_710xFigure 2.  VICTORY C location as of 15 August 2019, 1301 EST, MarineTraffic

3429769381?profile=RESIZE_710xFigure 3.  Vessels off the coast of Cameroon

3429770395?profile=RESIZE_710xFigure 4.  M/V Marmalaita

3429771536?profile=RESIZE_710xFigure 5.  Location of M/V Marmalaita on 15 August 2019, 1308 EST, MarineTraffic

This incident demonstrates the perils of piracy within the maritime world.  Pirates have become even more sophisticated and at times use cyber techniques to lure ships into dangerous waters, or may disable a ship in order to board a ship for theft, kidnapping or terroristic purposes.  In fact, Iran (with Russian technological assistance) is currently suspected of GPS jamming/spoofing to lure targeted foreign flagged vessels into their waters for detention and political reasons.[2] 

Wapack Labs provides its member with Vessel Impersonation Reports and Maritime Watch Lists that help marine companies all along the shipping supply chain.  This to better protect their networks and avoid malicious cyber activity to prevent an event of piracy in ports or on the high seas.  Wapack Labs is located in New Boston, NH.  We are a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization.  For questions, comments or assistance, please contact the lab directly at 1-844-492-7225, or feedback@wapacklabs.com   


[1] Dryad Global

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/iran-is-jamming-ship-gps-navigation-systems-to-seize-them-2019-8

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  • Lloyd's of London reporting: Sailors still missing - <<<COSMOSHIP Management, a Greece-based manager of dry bulk and container vessels, is still awaiting news of nine seafarers kidnapped from one of its bulkers off the coast of Cameroon. Various reports described two separate attacks within hours of each other in the Gulf of Guinea, one involving a German-owned general cargo vessel and the other a Greek-owned handysize bulker under the Liberia flag. The latter, it has emerged, was the 33,500 dwt Victory C, part of the 17-ship fleet operated by Cosmoship. It is understood that the 2012-built vessel was unloading a cargo of bagged rice at the port of Douala. Cosmoship chief executive Nikolaos Savvas expressed regret at the incident on August 15, telling Lloyd’s List that he had heard nothing from the men since they were taken from the vessel. “Everyone knows what is happening down there but nothing is being done,” he said. Mr Savvas said that “specialists” had been engaged to respond to the incident but it would be “unhelpful” to say any more. The nine crew members taken from the company’s ship were from a total crew of 21. All the men were Filipino seafarers, Mr Savvas said, in contradiction of initial media reports about the incident. There had been no word from the men taken from the vessel, he said: “Nothing at all.” Victory C, formerly named CMB Giulia, is one of three handysize bulkers purchased earlier this year from Bocimar of Belgium. The other vessel that was nearby when attacked a few hours earlier has already been identified as the Antigua- and Barbuda-flagged multipurpose vessel MarMalaita. Eight members of that vessel’s 12-man crew were kidnapped.

    Hamburg-based shipmanager MC-Schiffahrt said in a statement that it was “with deep regret and concern” that it gave notice of the attack on its vessel. It said that “a group of pirates” boarded the ship. “We have assembled our emergency response team and are doing utmost to deal with the case,” it said. “Our thoughts reach out to the concerned families, and we will take all efforts to support and assist them until their seafarers safely return back home.”>>>
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