It is a strange place, a land where children do not dream of becoming doctors or lawyers; rather, they want to be douanes [customs officers] at the port—the real cash cow in a country that generates so little revenue.
Offshore, out over the horizon, approximately 156 pirate attacks have been reported during 2011 and through May 2012. The majority of abducted ships were at anchor, drifting, or engaged in ship-to-ship (STS) operations within 135 miles off the coast of Benin.
Using as a rule one or two skiffs with 10-15 armed pirates, they hijacked vessels for an average of 1-11 days, during which the organized gangs transfer the captured cargo to “unmarked” vessels. Hence, some vessels conducted their STS operations beyond 135 miles offshore, as this was seen to be a safer—if more expensive—way to bunker.
In the last three months there have been two reported incidents way out of the HRA, a clear indication that the pirates—like those in the Gulf of Aden—are now following the vessels further offshore.