The Nigerian Navy has intercepted and rescued a Danish Motor Tanker, Monjasa Reformer, with 10 crew members off the Island of Principe on March 31.
The Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, in an official military signal obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday, revealed that the pirates escaped with six members of the 16-man crew.
Ayo-Vaughan revealed that the MT Monjasa Reformer with IMO number 9255878 was attacked and boarded by pirates on March 25 around 11.39 pm (Nigerian Time) in Pointe-Noire, Democratic Republic of Congo.
He added that the vessel was about 95 nautical miles 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 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the Navy swung into action.
Ayo-Vaughan said, “The Nigerian Navy surveillance infrastructure was used to search, locate and track the vessel although 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.
“The vessel arrived in the Gulf of Guinea on February 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 Gulf of Guinea, 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 further noted that the Nigerian Navy collaborated with the French Navy Ship, Premier-Maitre 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 Nigerian Navy officers vectored her ship, NNS Gongola to intercept the vessel as it approached the Nigerian Maritime environment, and rescued the crew members held hostage.
According to him, the NNS Gongola intercepted the hijacked tanker adrift 76 nautical miles off the Island of Principe.
Ayo-Vaughan added, “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.
“Considering the need to secure the vessel and ensure her safe arrival to her destination, the Nigerian Navy deployed NNS Kano in the company of the French Offshore Patrol Vessel to escort the vessel to Lome, Togo.
“MT Monjasa Reformer arrived in Lome, Togo, at about 06:00 pm West African Time on April 1.
“Efforts are being made by the Nigerian Navy, her strategic partners and other relevant agencies to track the pirates to ensure the safe release of the abductees.”