The Nigerian Navy said it has intercepted and rescued Motor Tanker (MT) Monjasa Reformer off the Island of Principe. This is even as it confirms that it is intensifying a manhunt for the pirates that attacked the ship recently.
The ill-fated ship is currently anchored in a Lagos port, for safety.
MT Monjasa Reformer with IMO number 9255878 was attacked and boarded by pirates on March 25, 2023, at about 2239 UTC in position 05:29.35 South – 009:34.00 East, around 144 nautical miles (nm) West-South-West of Pointe-Noire, Democratic Republic of Congo.
A statement by the Director of Naval Information, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, said at the time of the attack, the vessel was also about 95 nautical miles off the Etame Terminal.
It said the pirates using a skiff closed up, forcefully boarded the vessel and held 16 crew hostage. Upon receipt of the incident which was conveyed to the Nigerian Navy by the West Africa Regional Maritime Security Centre (CRESMAO) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the Nigerian Navy swung into action.
“The Nigerian Navy surveillance infrastructure was used to search, locate and track the vessel despite the fact that the pirates disabled the Automatic Identification System and communication set onboard.
“It is imperative to state that the hijacked vessel is registered in Liberia, but is owned by Danish Monjasa Chartering III DMCC.
The vessel arrived the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) on 14 February 2023 following its departure from Amsterdam and had visited Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo and Gabon for petroleum products related trade before her hijack”, it said.
The statement further asserted that it was observed that the pirates navigated the vessel northwards of the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) passing Gabon and Cameroon on 28 and 29 March 2023 before heading to and arriving Sao Tome and Principe, off the Joint Development Zone on 30 March 2023.
“Commendably, the Nigerian Navy collaborated with the French Navy Ship, PREMIER-MAÎTRE 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 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”, it said.
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 Sao Tome and Principe Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Considering the need to secure the vessel and ensure her safe arrival to her destination, the Nigerian Navy deployed NNS KANO in company of the French Offshore Patrol Vessel to escort the vessel to Lome, Togo.
MT MONJASA REFORMER arrived Lome, Togo, at about 1800 WAT on 1 April 2023. The statement affirmed that “efforts are being made by the Nigerian Navy, her strategic partners and other relevant agencies to track the pirates in order to ensure the safe release of the abductees”.