We’re Working with Relevant Authorities to Free 19 Kidnapped Tanker Crew, Assures NIMASA DG

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• NIMASA to fast track maritime security architecture

In the wake of the recent attack on a tanker vessel named, ‘Nave Constellation’, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has disclosed its readiness to fast-track the maritime security architecture, just as the Director General of the Agency Dr. Dakuku Peterside stated that the Agency is working with relevant partners to ensure the crew onboard are secured and safe.
The DG spoke in Abuja on Thursday, on the sidelines of the ongoing National Transportation Summit organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA), stating that the tanker was attacked off the coast of Bonny with nineteen persons alleged to have been picked up leaving nine crew members onboard the vessel. “The operators of the vessel made contact with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy and we immediately went to work”, he said.
He noted that the vessel owners had operated for ten days, within our territorial waters yet didn’t establish contact with the Harbour Masters. It also didn’t establish contact with the authorities in Nigeria. “However, that isn’t an issue because life is more precious than any other consideration. We have also immediately contacted the naval unit around that area and they have gone to work. The Navy has established contact with the remaining crew members onboard the vessel and the nine persons onboard the vessel are safe and the vessel is safe”.
The DG who lamented that this is happening at a time that efforts are being put together to make Nigerian waterways safe gave the assurance that the Agency will not rest on its oars. “I think this would ultimately serve as catalyst for us to fast-track what we are doing to safeguard our waterways so that commerce can thrive again and people can do economic activities without fear or hindrance”.
While sympathizing with the victims and their families for the ordeal and challenges of being kidnapped, he urged every concerned citizen and stakeholders to come together and work with NIMASA and relevant security Agencies to end the menace.
It may be recalled that Nigeria recently hosted a Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) where several engagement with stakeholders from all over the world, on the global maritime scale towards enhancing collaboration among maritime nations in order to find lasting solution to the security issues on the Gulf of Guinea and on the entire West and Central Africa.
It was be recalled that 19 crew members of a tanker vessel identified as Nave Constellation were kidnapped by pirates off Bonny Island, Nigeria on December 3.
18 of the taken crew are believed to be of Indian nationality and one of Turkish origin.
According to the report, seven crew members are still on board the tanker, listed as part of Navios Tankers Management’s fleet.
The maritime security company did not disclose the source of the incident report, however, it has categorized the source of high confidence level.
Dryad added that the incident occurred 26 nm SE of the Egina terminal, stressing that ships conducting operations at the Egina, Usan and Serpentina terminals are operating at heightened risk in the medium to longer term.
The attack has been confirmed by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, according to which, armed pirates attacked and boarded an oil tanker underway around 76 nm South of Bonny, Nigeria, on December 3.
“Nineteen crew were identified as missing. The vessel owners notified the Nigerian Navy and MRCC for assistance. Remaining crew sailed a tanker to a safe area,” the report reads.
World Maritime News has also received a statement from Navios and Anglo-Eastern Tanker Management (Hong Kong), owners and managers of VLCC Nave Constellation, confirming the incident.
As informed, the Hong Kong-flagged crude oil tanker had departed Bonny Offshore Terminal in fully laden condition when she was boarded by armed men late on the night of December 3rd.
“The criminal gang departed the vessel taking 19 of those on board with them as hostage; 18 Indian nationals and one Turkish national. 7 seafarers remained on board and were instructed to take the tanker to a safe position to await the arrival of a security vessel and other support craft. There was no pollution or damage to the vessel,” the statement reads.
“Navios as owners and Anglo Eastern as technical and crew managers’s prime concern is the safety and early return of the 19 persons taken by the pirate gang. All the appropriate authorities, including the Flag State, have been alerted and are responding and all the necessary action is being taken to secure their wellbeing and early release.”
As disclosed, families of those taken by the pirates are being kept fully informed of the developing situation.
This is the 6th maritime security incident and the fourth kidnapping incident to occur within 30nm of the South Eastern boundary of the Nigerian EEZ within 2019.
“This is further confirmation of a developing trend of incidents that are assessed to be perpetuated by a well resourced pirate action group, most likely operating from one or more mother-ship vessels.
“It is assessed that this PAG is aware of the limitations of security prescience beyond the Nigerian EEZ and is seeking to exploit traffic conducting operations at or in support of oil infrastructure located along the north eastern fringes of the Nigerian EEZ and within the 60nm channel between the Nigerian EEZ and Bioko Island,” Dryad experts said in a comment, reports World Maritime News..

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