Nigeria's Navy retakes hijacked oil vessel


Nigeria’s navy on Wednesday retook control of a Singapore-owned tanker carrying a fuel cargo that had been hijacked near Lagos, and its crew of 23 Indian nationals was unharmed, the company said.

The attack was the third in just over two weeks in the Gulf of Guinea and the latest in a rash of such incidents in recent months, with previous hijackings leading to the theft of fuel cargo followed by the release of the crew and ships.

Details were still emerging of the attack late Tuesday, but the crew were said to have taken refuge in a safe room. The gasoline-laden vessel, said to be carrying 45,000 tonnes, was being escorted to the port of Nigeria’s economic capital Wednesday afternoon.

The master of the MT Abu Dhabi sent out a short distress call Tuesday night saying that suspected pirates were boarding the ship roughly 30 nautical miles off Nigeria’s coast, said Pat Adamson, a spokesman for Pioneer Ship Management.

Nigeria’s navy spokesman, Commodore Kabir Aliyu, said the tanker’s location at about 1100 GMT had been established through a tracking device and that a rescue mission had been launched.

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The navy vessel closed in on the MT Abu Dhabi at approximately 1400 GMT, said the company statement.

“Command was restored to the master and crew. It is understood that the pirates fled the scene on the approach of the naval vessel. All the ship’s crew are reported to be well and unharmed,” the statement said.

Aliyu said that no shots were fired and no confrontation occurred as marine forces reclaimed the vessel.

The International Maritime Bureau earlier told AFP that the crew had locked themselves in a safe room when the hijackers boarded.

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