By Philip Nwosu
THE Nigerian Navy at the weekend handed over vessel MT Maximus, which was hijacked by suspected pirates on February 9, 2016 and rescued from the pirates on February 21, by naval operatives.
Handing over the vessels to its captain and crew, the Commander of the Nigerian Naval Ship (NNS) Beecroft, Commodore Abraham Adaji said the handover was necessary after preliminary investigation had been conducted
He said the investigations were conducted alongside Nigeria Police and Interpol and the hand over decided to enable the vessel continue with its business.
The Managing Director of Super Maritime, a shipping company Mr. Reni Von Lenon who was the representative of the owners of MT Maximus received the document of the crew of the vessel and accepted the vessel from the Nigerian Navy.
The Nigerian Navy had in an operation by its operatives stormed the vessels mid sea killing one pirates and arresting six others.
The Captain of a Saudi Arabian Oil Tanker, MT MAXIMUS hijacked off the coast of Togo said about 18 heavily armed men took over control of the ship after it sailed out from an oil facility where it had gone to load about 4700 metric tons of diesel.
Krishan Pilai, captain of the MT MAXIMUS said the scary looking gunmen, after they took over control of the oil tanker, shot down the ship’s tracker and headed immediately for the open waters.
He said, “On February 11, 2016, we had gotten an order from our chatterers, a Korean company to proceed to Togo to lift about 4700 metric tons of AGO. After we finished loading we set out to sea awaiting further directives from our company in Korea. We were still at sea when we noticed a smaller boat approaching us from the port side. It was dark and their light was not on. I sounded our ship’s horn to indicate that they might crash into us, but they continued coming towards us and eventually forced their way on board. As soon as they entered our ship, they forced all the crew, 18 of us, into the engine room.”
Krishna said the hijackers kept sailing and that from his own calculation they were about 70 nautical miles away from the coast of Sao-tome before a Nigerian Navy ship came to their rescue.
He said, “We were at sea for about eight days, under severe torture. We had to sail deep into the sea until a Nigerian Navy ship spotted us. The captain of the Nigerian Navy ship whom I later was told is Captain Ferrari, ordered the hijackers to stop, but they refused. The criminals opened fire at the naval men and in return the officers of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Okpabana fired some warming shots into the air.”