India Grateful To Nigeria, Benin Republic For Help In Recovering Missing Product Tanker ;  Marine Express 

Free at last: Marine Express; the product tanker that went missing on Benin Republic waters, but freed last week by Nigerian and Benin Republic security forces.

India has thanked the governments of Nigeria and Benin Republic for their help and support in locating the product tanker Marine Express and its 22 crew members that went missing off West Africa coast with 22 Indians on board.

India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, confirmed early last week that the tanker had been released.

Swaraj, who had on Monday, sought the assistance of the Nigerian government in recovering the ship, shared the news of the release on her Twitter handle, @SushmaSwaraj.

“I am happy to inform that Merchant Ship Marine Express with 22 Indian nationals on board has been released,” she tweeted.

In a later tweet, the minister further thanked the governments of Nigeria and Benin for their help and support.

The minister had earlier said that she spoke with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who “promised all help and assistance in locating the missing ship”.

She added that a helpline was also set up.

The external affairs ministry had on Feb. 3 announced that the vessel Marine Express (oil tanker), owned by Mumbai-based Anglo-Eastern shipping company with 22 Indians on board was “presumably missing off the coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea”.

Although details of the terms of the ship’s rescue operation have not been released, its manager; Anglo-Eastern nonetheless confirmed the release.

The 45,989 dwt oil products tanker was at the Cotonou Anchorage when all communication with the vessel was lost.

Anglo-Eastern also announced yesterday  that, “Full control of the vessel was resumed at approximately 04:00 Singapore time today (Tuesday). All crew members are reported to be safe and well, and the cargo of 13,5000 tons of gasoline remains on board,” 

“We wish to express our gratitude to the captain and crew of the vessel and their families for their courage and fortitude in dealing with this difficult situation, as well as the authorities and agencies involved.”

The families of the crew members have been informed of the situation, and now a comprehensive investigation into the hijacking will be carried out.

Marine Express is the second tanker to be taken by pirates in the region since the beginning of this year.

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker MT Barrett and its 22 crew members were hijacked at the beginning of January. However, they were released from captivity after a six-day ordeal.

Details on the terms of their release have also not been disclosed either.