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Methodology Analysis - Piracy in the Gulf of Mexico

Piracy has very recently seen an unusual spike in the just the last thirty days.

Less than ten days have passed since we highlighted the topic for the southern Gulf of Mexico, and already we are conducting a closer investigation into the subject. However, before doing so, let’s review a quick disclaimer. This article is not going to be a hate-fest on the vessels, their management, or ownership. This paper intends to offer insight into the tactics used to demonstrate a pattern. That information will give you a better understanding of how to prevent or overcome these situations.

3/3/2020 - NN  REGULUS, Mexico Flagged, IMO # 9549176, OSV

4/4/2020 - Not Named, Panama Flagged, IMO # N/A, Pipelay/Crane

4/9/2020 - MV  REMAS, Italy Flagged, IMO # 9586459, OSV

4/12/2020 - MAERSK TRANSPORTER, Denmark Flagged, IMO # 9388649, OSV

4/15/2020 - TELFORD  28, Gibraltar Flagged, IMO # 8769638, Non-Propelled  Barge

March 5th, 2020, the “Diario Independent Tribuna” published an article outlining the attack against the NN REGULUS that occurred on March 3rd.  

The NN REGULUS came under attacked approximately 3-4 KM from the Isla del Carmen, Industrial and Fishing Port, under cover of darkness assailants used speed boats and ladders to board the vessel successfully. According to the Vessel Master, the Pirates boarded and discharged firearms to intimidate the crew then split into two groups. One looted the ship’s cargo while the other robbed the crew themselves. After completing their mission, he pirates disembarked the vessel into their speedboats and vanished into the night.

The next attack occurred on April 4th, 2020, near Dos Bocas.

Details regarding the event have been kept off the record. Possibly due to the attempt failing and discretion for those involved in the incident. What is known is pirates were unsuccessful at on their first attempt but were able to board the ship upon repeat attempts. Key points of the assault are that pirates approached the vessel using fast boats and fired shots at the vessel, clearly in a similar fashion to the previous incident. Five days later, on April 9th, 2020, the MV REMAS was attacked by pirates approximately 70 nautical miles north of Puerto Dos Bocas. During this attack, reports indicate two fast-moving boats pulled alongside MV REMAS and immediately began firing. Upon boarding the MV REMAS,pirates rounded up the crew then looted the vessel.  A 35-sec video clip is available on the link provided.  *

April 12th, 2020, the MAERSK TRANSPORTER came under attack near the coast of Cuidad del Carmen. Like previous attacks, the MAERSKTRANSPORTER was approached by 1-2 speedboats with 6-8 pirates. Upon boarding, the pirates shot out one of the bridge windows to gain entry insidethe vessel. The pirates rounded up crew members, rob them, and looted thevessel before departing.

The most recent event was, on April 15th, 2020, when the TELFORD28 was attacked near Cuidad del Carmen, possibly en route to Dos Bocas. Purportedly, three armed pirates boarded the TELFORD 28. During the attack, a crew member received two gunshot wounds, which required medical evacuation for extensive medical treatment. The pirates stole equipment and other valuables before disembarking the vessel.

Now let's identify some commonalities between the attacks.

·        All attacks involved 1-2 small, fast boats

·        Each incident occurred within the from Cuidad del Carmen to Dos Bocas

·        Upon boarding the pirates loot vessel equipment and rob the crew

·        Each attack the pirates were armed and demonstrated they weren’t afraid of using weapons

·        Majority of cases the vessels were non-Mexican flagged

What preventative measures can be taken to mitigate attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Mexico?

·        Ensure the vessel’s radar is on and monitored

·        Ensure a deck watch is initiated

·        Preform vessel hardening

·        Find and utilize a reputable security firm


OSV or Special Service Vessel operating in the Gulf of Mexico, especially as a non-Mexican flagged vessel, needs to make special considerations. The current trend shows an increase in both frequency and violence of action. The information suggests that the targets were intentional because the pirates passed numerous other vessels en route to the victim. While vessel tracker software that is readily accessible to the public is useful, it leads one to wonder if criminals use the same technology for nefarious reasons.