Eighteen crew members on board Chinese vessel MV HAILUFANG II which was attacked by pirates have been rescued by operatives of the Nigerian Navy (NN).
A statement from the Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Commodore Ibrahim Shettima, said that the crew members, comprising Chinese, Ghanaian and Ivorian nationals, were rescued on Thursday, May 15th.
Commodore Shettima said the vessel, MV HAILUFANG II, was attacked by pirates off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire, explaining that ‘the pirates took control of the vessel and directed the vessel towards Nigerian waters. The vessel had 18 crew members comprising Chinese, Ghanaians and Ivorians.
‘The Nigerian Navy was alerted of the pirate attack and immediately the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) NGURU was dispatched to intercept the vessel.
‘On interception of the vessel at about 140 nautical miles south of Lagos Fairway Buoy, the pirates refused to comply to the orders of the Navy Ship, hence the Nigerian Navy had to conduct an opposed boarding of the vessel.
‘All ship crew were safely rescued, while the 10 pirates were also arrested.’
The Commander NNS Beecroft, said the last five known or documented pirate attacks were outside of Nigerian waters, of which the Nigerian Navy responded in the interest of regional security.
He added that the interception/rescue of the ship crew is aptly captured in the Nigeria Navy’s Total Spectrum Maritime Strategy ‘which covers Nigeria’s outermost maritime area of interest, encompassing the entire West African waters and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
‘The interception of the vessel hijacked off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire underscores the need for increased regional cooperation in terms of information sharing and further deepening of the force’s response capability. For instance,’ he explained, ‘this rescue effort was bolstered by additional intelligence received from the Beninous Navy during the operation. This also emphasizes the Chief of Naval Staff’s, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette Ibas, commitment to ensuring maritime security within Nigeria’s maritime space and the Gulf of Guinea in general.’
Commodore Shettima also warned criminal elements that engage in any acts of maritime crime within the Gulf of Guinea to desist, saying the Nigerian Navy has the capability and will power to deal with such perpetrators.