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25 Foreigners Rescued As Nigerian Navy Foils Hijack Of Maersk Ship

An attempt by suspected pirates to hijack and abduct 25 foreign nationals aboard a Maersk merchant ship carrying general cargo to Nigeria was foiled by the Nigerian Navy.

Briefing journalists yesterday at Onne Sea Port, Rivers State, Olusegun Soyemi, Executive Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, said the vessel was berthed safely with the rescued crew unharmed, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Soyemi said the crew, including the ship’s captain, was of mixed nationalities consisting of eight Filipinos, eight South Africans, five Indians, two Britons and two from Thailand.
According to him, Safmarine Kuramo, a Maersk merchant ship registered in Singapore, was transporting general cargo from Port-Noire, Congo, to Onne Sea Port in Rivers.
“On January 5 at about 08:00 hours, Safmarine Kuramo was attacked by pirates about 60 nautical miles off the coast of Bonny Island (in Rivers) Fairway Bouy.
“We got a mayday distress call that the ship had been boarded by an unconfirmed number of 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 pirates 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.
Soyemi, a navy captain, said the pirates fired several gunshots at the ship’s control room in a bid to scare and subdue any resistance from the captain and crew.
Also, the Commanding Officer of NNS Centenary, Chiedozie Okehie, who led the operation, said the crew locked and hid themselves in the ship’s citadel (engine room).
He said the rescue was successful partly due to the courage and bravery exhibited by the ship’s captain – a woman.
According to him, in spite of the odds, she covertly gave the Nigerian Navy briefs while pirates onboard the ship made several attempts 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 had remained onboard.
“Investigations are ongoing to ascertain what happened and who carried out the attack,” he said.
Okehie said the navy under the command of Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas remained fully committed to the safety of the nation’s waterways and maritime environment.
The captain of Safmarine Kuramo, Ms. Zetta Gous-Conradie, a South African, described the experience as horrific, but thanked the Nigerian Navy for its prompt response to her distress call.
“We were very grateful when the navy came onboard because at some point we thought the pirates would take us hostage.
Credit: This Day
“The heat was stifling because the temperature was very hot in the citadel, and at some point my crew members and I thought we would suffocate and die,” she said.


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