20 August, 2013
THE Nigerian Navy, NN, Sunday, killed 12 suspected pirates who allegedly hijacked an oceangoing vessel,
MT Notre, carrying 17,000 metric tonne of petrol motor spirit, PMS, in the Gulf of Guinea, last Thursday. Four of the suspects were captured alive and are currently being detained at NNS Delta in Warri, Delta State.
Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Central
Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali
Hassan told newsmen in Warri that the
vessel with the product was recovered by naval personnel after a 30-minute gun battle with the oil thieves along the Forcados flank of the western Niger
The Nigerian Navy sent an emergency
signal through the Flag Officer
Commanding, FOC, Western Naval
Command, Rear Admiral I.E. Ibas as soon
as report of the hijack was made.
A security alarm was immediately declared and NNS ANDONI and NNS IKOT
ABASI were dispatched to engage the
bandits. Also deployed were six other gunboats and NN vessels increment from NNS Delta in Warri and the Navy Forward Operations Base in Egwuema, Brass Island.
According to Rear Admiral Hassan, “8 NN
vessels were used in pursuit of the
hijacked MT Norte with 16 suspected
pirates on board. The participating ships
eventually shadowed the hijacked vessel
and forced her back into Nigerian waters.”
“An agreed drop point was reached but
the suspected militants refused to
disembark as earlier agreed. They
obviously were playing for time and
darkness to set in. They finally agreed to
disembark from MT Norte at 2045hrs on 17th of August 2013 on condition that
only one NN vessel would remain in the
vicinity of the MT Norte.
“A total of 16 militants disembarked from the MT Norte instead of 20 that were earlier claimed to be on board. The
captain also confirmed that no other
militant was left on board and no
crewmember from MT Norte was taken hostage. After disembarking from the ship, the hijackers made a fast move towards the coastline,” he said. Hassan added,
“Accordingly, NNS BADAGRY immediately engaged the boat in hot pursuit. Efforts to get the hijackers to stop and surrender proved abortive as they engaged NNS Badagry in a gun battle.” He disclosed that the gun battle lasted for about 30 minutes after which the pirates were overpowered by the NN gunboat.
“On taking over the speedboat, four of
the militants were alive and unhurt while the rest of the pirates were killed in the crossfire. The four survivors, their
belongings and three AK 47 rifles were
recovered and brought on board NNS Badagry,” he said.
Rear Admiral Usman said the survivors
currently detained at the NNS Delta have
made useful confession to the Navy in its
investigation. He said that the corpses of the sea pirates were not recovered, as their boat sank because of the damage inflicted on it.
The FOC commended the coordinated
nature of the response by the various
participating units and commands of the
Nigerian Navy as well as the outstanding performance of the Maritime Patrol Aircraft from the Nigerian Air Force, which gave impetus to efforts to keep the hijacked vessel under constant watch.