Nigerian Navy intercepts, rescues hijacked vessel, 10 crew
The Nigerian Navy (NN) says it has intercepted and rescued Motor Tanker (MT) MONJASA REFORMER with 10 crew off the Island of Principe at about 04:00 am on March 31.
The Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, made this known in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
Ayo-Vaughan said MT MONJASA REFORMER with IMO number 9255878 was attacked and boarded by pirates on March 25 at about 22:39 UTC in position 05:29.35 South – 009:34.00 East, around 144 nautical miles (nm) West-South-West of Pointe-Noire, Democratic Republic of Congo.
He said the vessel was about 95 nautical mile (nm) off the Etame Terminal at the time of the attack, adding that the pirates, using a skiff closed up, forcefully boarded the vessel and held 16 crew hostage.
According to him, upon receipt of the incident, which was conveyed to the Nigerian Navy by the West Africa Regional Maritime Security Centre (CRESMAO) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the Nigerian Navy swung into action.
“The Nigerian Navy surveillance infrastructure was used to search, locate and track the vessel in spite of the fact that the pirates disabled the Automatic Identification System and communication set onboard.
“It is imperative to state that the hijacked vessel is registered in Liberia but owned by Danish Monjasa Chartering III DMCC.
“The vessel arrived the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) on Feb. 14, following its departure from Amsterdam and had visited Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo and Gabon for petroleum products related trade before her hijack.
“It was observed that the pirates navigated the vessel northwards of the GoG, passing Gabon and Cameroon on March 28 and March 29 before heading to, and arriving, Sao Tome and Principe, off the Joint Development Zone on March 30,” he said.
The Navy spokesman said that NN collaborated with the French Navy Ship, PREMIER-MAÎTRE L’HER, which was on patrol within the Gulf of Guinea (under the Coordinated Maritime Presence arrangement) and had sighted the hijacked vessel.
He added that the NN vectored her ship, NNS GONGOLA to intercept the vessel as it approached Nigeria maritime environment and rescue the crew members held hostage.
According to him, NNS GONGOLA intercepted the hijacked Tanker and adrift 76nm off the Island of Principe.
“However, it was discovered that the pirates had disembarked with six crew members to an unknown destination while underway in the Sao Tome and Principe Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“Considering the need to secure the vessel and ensure her safe arrival to her destination, the Nigerian Navy deployed NNS KANO in company of the French Offshore Patrol Vessel to escort the vessel to Lome, Togo.
“MT MONJASA REFORMER arrived Lome, Togo, at about 1800 WAT on April 1.
“Efforts are being made by the Nigerian Navy, her strategic partners and other relevant agencies to track the pirates in order to ensure the safe release of the abductees,” he added.