The Nigerian Navy (NN) said it intercepted and rescued a Motor Tanker (MT) Monjasa Reformer hijacked by pirates around 144 nautical miles (nm) South-West of Pointe-Noire, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The vessel with 16 crew members which was hijacked around 10: 39 pm on 25th March, while it was about 95nm off the Etame Terminal; was rescued adrift on the Island of Principe around 4 am on 31st March.
However, the hijackers were said to have disembarked the vessel and kidnapped six of the 16 crew members at the time the ship was intercepted.
In a statement, the Director of Naval Information, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan noted that MT Monjasa Reformer, a Dane-owned vessel registered in Liberia with IMO number 9255878 had been in the Gulf of Guinea waters since 14th February, for petroleum product-related trade.
“It is imperative to state that the hijacked vessel is registered in Liberia but owned by Danish Monjasa Chartering III DMCC. The vessel arrived in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) on 14th February 2023 following its departure from Amsterdam and had visited Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, and Gabon for petroleum product-related trade before her hijack.
“It was observed that the pirates navigated the vessel northwards of the GoG passing Gabon and Cameroon on 28th and 29th March 2023 before heading to and arriving Sao Tome and Principe, off the Joint Development Zone on 30th March 2023.
“Commendably, the Nigerian Navy collaborated with the French Navy Ship, Premier-Maitre L’her, which was on patrol within the Gulf of Guinea (under the Coordinated Maritime Presence arrangement) and had sighted the hijacked vessel.
“As the vessel approached Nigeria’s maritime environment, the Nigerian Navy vectored her ship, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Gongola to intercept MT Monjasa Reformer and rescue the crew members held hostage. Accordingly, NNS Gongola intercepted the hijacked tanker, Monjasa Reformer adrift 76nm off the Island of Principe.
“However, it was discovered that the pirates had disembarked with six crew members to an unknown destination while underway in the São Tomé e Príncipe Exclusive Economic Zone”, he said.