A brutal year for piracy in Nigeria was 2010, with at least 25 vessels attacked or hijacked off the coast. The hijackings threatened to disrupt oceangoing commerce in the world's 12th-largest oil producer, which provides the U.S. with about eight percent of its oil imports. The Nigerian navy responded by improving its intelligence-gathering network and strengthening its fleet with nine additional patrol boats and two former U.S. Coast Guard cutters. The U.S. government, alarmed by the threat of a spike in oil prices, increased its efforts to train the Nigerian navy and dispatched naval speedboats to key junctions in the delta's creeks, monitoring suspicious boat traffic. A year later, pirate attacks off Nigeria had dropped to just 15.
Unfortunately, the pirates hadn't disappeared – they'd just transferred operations to Benin. Fernand Maxime Ahoyo, then chief of staff of the Benin navy, had predicted this would happen. "I warned that if we didn't do something quickly to improve security, there would be chaos," he says. "But nobody took care in what I was saying."