What would have resulted into fatal mishap on Nigerian waters was averted last week by search ad rescue officials of both the Nigerian Maritime Administration when 486 passengers were rescued aboard a Sao Tome and Principe flag vessel MV Liliana Carneiro which was coming form Gabon enroute Benin Republic.
The ship, with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) registration number 7017497 and with 14 crew reportedly left Gabon on August 15 wit the hope of getting to Benin Republic the following day, but developed a fault mid way when her tankers started leaking. The ship eventually ran out of fuel.
The ship which had capacity for 400 passengers had 486 on board in addition to the crew and also had several hundreds of luggage.
The distressed ship was said to have called Cotonou for help but to no avail necessitating the decision to call the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (RMRCC) in Nigeria which instantly responded and told the ship’s Captain, Do Rosario Carlos to allow the ship to drift while rescue was planned.
The rescue team was led by assistant director, search and rescue at NIMASA, Commander Tijani Bako and the general manager, marine at NPA, Capt Ihenacho Ebubeogu.
Captain Ebubeogu confirmed that the ship left Gabon on Sunday, August 16 at about one o’clock in the morning and by Tuesday, the chief engineer noticed that there was fuel leakage and added that “they had anticipated that the fuel that was remaining could take them to Cotonou which was their destination”.
He added that when the ship’s crew discovered that the fuel which was left could not take them to Cotonou, they called the port of Cotonou, but the port did not respond to the distress call. He said they decided to call the RMRCC in Nigeria which responded immediately.
Corroborating the ship’s predicament, Commander Bako of NIMASA also confirmed that the ship had many passengers on board.
He said that b coming to the rescue of the ship, Nigeria has “satisfied the doctrines of the search and rescue convention as well as that of SOLAS and that is what Nigeria as a contracting government is expected to do”.
Shipping Position Weekly learnt that most of those n the ship were actually running away from anticipated election violence in Gabon. Some of them are Nigerians who are resident in that country.