Were it not for the intervention of a Spanish Navy patrol vessel; Serviola, the crew of an unnamed Nigerian ship would have been kidnapped, after pirates hijacked the ship and stole valuable items on the ship, which was en route Lagos.
The Spanish navy patrol boat Serviola is one of the ships that were deployed to the Gulf of Guinea on a train-and-assist mission to defend Spanish interests overseas.
It was also in response to the appeal by the international shipping community for help from Western powers to provide security assistance off- Nigeria for ships.
According to a statement sighted by Shipping Position Daily yesterday, Capitán de Corbeta Román González, the captain of Servioala, the crew observed that the Nigerian vessel was behaving in an unusual manner for a merchant ship, and they spotted a small boat in its vicinity, raising suspicion. The Captain added that the vessel did not respond to radio calls, so the Serviola's commanding officer launched two small RIBs to investigate. As the Serviola's launches approached, the small boat was said to have fled the scene at high speed.
When the Serviola's boarding party reached the merchant ship, its captain told them that the vessel had been hijacked four days ago, and that the Serviola's rapid approach and continuous radio calls scared-off the pirates.
According to the captain, the group of pirates consisted of nine attackers armed with AK-47 rifles and grenade launchers. The captain of the Nigerian ship told the Spanish navy that the pirates had pointed their guns at the master and ordered him not to answer the Serviola's VHF calls.
It was also confirmed that during the hijacking, the pirates stole all of the money and valuables of the 12 members of the ship's Nigerian crew. The attackers also took a significant portion of the ship's provisions.
The Serviola remained on scene for one day to provide food and drink to the vessel's crew. The merchant vessel then made her way to the port of Lagos, and the Serviola resumed her patrol.