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Armed men stormed a boat off Nigeria's coast and took hostage two mariners believed to be U.S. citizens, a U.S. official said Thursday.
Captain Donald Marcus, president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, & Pilots, has been in pirate-infested waters before.
Though many may want to compare this latest attack to what happened to Captain Phillips off the coast of Somalia in 2009, Marcus said the Gulf of Guinea area is a completely different situation.
"The danger there is extreme," said Marcus.
The men captured were part of the oil and mineral industry, which extracts great wealth out of this area, said Marcus.
"These vessels and oil platforms are stationary. They are being serviced by small vessels that have low free board that are usually quite slow. They are much more vulnerable," said Marcus.
"Instead of capturing a vessel and the crew, and taking the vessel to a safe haven, and holding the crew hostage pending negotiations, the model in the Gulf of Guinea is more akin to theft and kidnapping," said Marcus.
In other words, the pirates want the machinery, the supplies, the oil, and the crew.
"They take them ashore and hold them captive for ransom," said Marcus.
Marcus's organization prepares seamen for such scenarios, including anti-terrorism training, small arms training, and training to help seaman in the event that they are taken hostage.
Based on his experience, Marcus said the captured U.S. citizens are "being held somewhere ashore and they have to hope for the payment of ransom."
His advice to them is the same thing Captain Phillips told his mariners.
"Keep your composure, and try to keep your sense of self and your courage. Because it requires extreme composure to get through an ordeal like these men are going through," said Marcus.