2 Americans kidnapped near Nigeria

Oren Dorell


The United States is investigat­ing reports that pirates kid­napped two Americans from a U.S.-flagged ship off the coast of Nigeria in West Africa, where se­curity has been a growing concern.

The incident involves a U.S.­flagged vessel, the 222-foot C-Re­triever, in the Gulf of Guinea.

“We are seeking additional in­formation about the incident,” the State Department said.

The ship’s captain and chief engineer were abducted early Wednesday morning, according to the British security firm AKE. Rick Filon of AKE said Nigerian Central Naval Command has pro­vided no additional information.

The ship is owned by Edison Chouest Offshore, based in Cut Off, La.

ECO supports the majority of the U.S. Gulf deepwater oil rigs and an expanding global market with a fleet of more than 200 ves­sels, ranging from 87 to more than 360 feet in length, according to the company website.

Maj. Robert Firman, a Penta­gon spokesman, described the in­cident as “a piracy attack on a commercial vessel off the coast of Nig eria.”

“There is no involvement of DoD at this point,” Firman said. “It’s a maritime criminal act.”

The State Department is “closely monitoring” reports of the incident, Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman, said on Thursday.

“Obviously our concern is their safe return,” she said. “At this point we do not have information that would indicate this was an act of terrorism.”

U.S. Navy SEALs rescued American Capt. Richard Phillips off the coast of Somalia in 2009 when he was abducted by pirates who attacked his ship, the Maersk Alabama.

But unlike the east coast of Af­rica, there is no international counterpiracy mission off the coast of west Africa, Firman said.

Piracy off Africa’s west coast has been a growing problem, however, according to maritime security experts.

The C-Retriever is a supply vessel for oil platforms in the Gulf of Guinea and has been working in the area since about April 2006, said Daryl Williamson, commercial development direc­tor for Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

Cyrus Mody, assistant director of the International Maritime Bureau, said incidents off the coast of Nigeria have been grow­ing “for a number of years,” though they’ve been overshad­owed by piracy off the Somali coast and “hasn’t gotten the at­tention it deserves,” Mody said. rochesterdemocrat.ny.newsmemory.com


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