Nigerian Navy foils ship hijack, rescues 25 foreigners in Rivers State

Nigerian Navy foils ship hijack, rescues 25 foreigners in Rivers State About twenty five foreigners including Britons, South Africans, Indi...

Nigerian Navy foils ship hijack, rescues 25 foreigners in Rivers State

About twenty five foreigners including Britons, South Africans, Indians, Filipinos and Thais were rescued as the Nigerian Navy foiled an attempt by suspected sea pirates to hijack and abduct them aboard a Maersk merchant ship.

The ship was carrying general cargo to Nigeria at the time of the attack.

Executive Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder Navy Capt. Olusegun Soyemi, stated that the vessel arrived safely with the rescued crewmembers yesterday at Onne Port in Rivers State.

Capt. Soyemi revealed that the crew members, including the ship’s captain, were of mixed nationalities consisting of eight Philippines, eight South Africans, five Indians, two Britons and two from Thailand.

As he pointed out, Safmarine Kuramo, a Maersk merchant ship registered in Singapore, was transporting general cargo from Port-Noire, Congo, to Onne Sea Port in Rivers.“On Jan. 5 at about 08:00 hours; Sufmarine Kuramo was attacked by sea pirates about 60 nautical miles off the coast of Bonny Island (in Rivers) Fairway Bouy.

“We got may-day distress call that the ship was boarded by unconfirmed number of sea pirates after entering the nation’s territorial waters.

“We immediately dispatched a warship (NNS Centenary) and attack gunboats led by Navy Capt. Chiedozie Okehie of the Eastern Naval Command to rescue the situation.

“The sea pirates apparently on sighting advancing naval troops fled the scene for fear of being arrested by our operatives.

“The operation was largely successful as all 25 foreign crew members, including the captain, are safe and unhurt, while cargo onboard the ship is intact,” he said.

Capt. Soyemi said that several gunshots were fired by the pirates at the ship’s control room in order to scare and subdue any resistance from the captain and crew members.

Also, Capt. Chiedozie Okehie, the Commanding Officer of NNS Centenary, who led the operation, said the crew members locked and hid themselves in the ship’s citadel (engine room).

He pointed out that the rescue was successful partly due to the courage and bravery displayed by the ship’s captain who is a woman.

He noted that defying all odds, she covertly gave navy operatives briefs while pirates on board the ship made several attempt to break into the citadel.

“Immediately we got to the ship, we carried out thorough searches of the compartments and cabins to check if any pirate remained on board.

“Investigations are ongoing to ascertain what happened and who carried outthe attack,” he assured.

Capt. Okehie said the navy under the command of Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas remained fully committed to safety of the nation’s waterways and maritime environment.

On her own, the Captain of Safamarine Kuramo, Ms Zetta Gous-Conradie, a South African, described the experience as horrific.

She hailed the Nigerian Navy for its prompt response to her distress call.

“We are very grateful when the navy came onboard because at some point we had thought the pirates would take us hostage.

“The heat was stifling because the temperature was very hot at the citadel, and at some point, my crew members and I had thought we would suffocate and die.”

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