by Jim Miklaszewski, F. Brinley Bruton and Jason Cumming
Two Americans were kidnapped by armed pirates after their ship was attacked off Nigeria’s coast, U.S. officials said Thursday.
The U.S.-flagged oil supply vessel C-Retriever was targeted in the Gulf of Guinea early Wednesday, Reuters reported. The ship’s captain and chief engineer were abducted.
The seized vessel is owned by Louisiana-based Edison Chouest Offshore. The company was not immediately available for comment.
“Over the last couple of years there has been an increase in the severity of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea,” said Rory Lamrock, an analyst specializing in maritime security with U.K.-based consultancy AKE.
Earlier this month, the International Maritime Bureau reported that pirate attacks off Nigeria’s coast had jumped by a third this year – with 29 attacks on vessels recorded in the first nine months of 2013, up from 21 in the same period last year.
“Pirates, often heavily armed and violent, are targeting vessels and their crews along the [Nigerian] coast, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters,” the IMB said. “In many cases, they ransack the vessels and steal the cargo.”