WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) – The captain and chief engineer of an oil platform in West Africa were kidnapped in a pirate attack on Wednesday.
Both crew members are believed to be U.S. citizens, according to a U.S. official familiar with the attack.
Details about the crew members' well being and the condition of their vessel after the attack are not known.
The attack happened in the Gulf of Guinea, an oil-rich area that has become a hotspot for pirate activity.
On Thursday, a sea captain familiar with the region talked with CNN's Jake Tapper about how this situation is different from the well-televised pirate attacks near Somalia.
"The platforms are stationary unlike off the coast of Somalia, where you've got essentially cargo vessels carrying cargo from point A to point B, within the vicinity of the coast. These vessels are oil platforms that are stationary," said Captain Don Marcus, president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots. "They're being serviced by small vessels that have low free-board, usually quite slow. They're much more vulnerable - it's an entirely different industry, and the model is quite different; 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."
Nearly 30 percent of U.S. oil imports flow through the Gulf of Guinea region.
In all, 40 pirate attacks have been reported there so far in 2013. It's also the only place in the world this year that has seen crew kidnappings. 132 people have been taken hostage in attacks in the area.
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