By ODIMMEGWA JOHNPETER, Abuja
The Nigerian Navy has successfully foiled an attempted hijack of a Merchant Vessel, MV UAL HOUSTON around Bonny Fairway Buoy in Rivers State. The incident occurred yesterday 13 July 2017 at about 7.45am. 6 suspected sea robbers boarded the vessel but were unable to access the ship’ s living quarters, bridge or machinery room as the ship was on lockdown by the crew. Subsequently, on receipt of the ship’s distress call, the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Bonny dispatched a boat to rescue the vessel. On sighting the naval patrol boat, the robbers abandoned their hijack plot and fled. Preliminary investigation revealed that no crew member was abducted or any item stolen during the attack.
In a related development, the Nigerian Navy has continued the recent trend of successes in the operations against crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and other illegal activities in the Niger Delta. To this end, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) PATHFINDER has discovered and destroyed 7 illegal refineries around Bolo Creek and Isaka axis in Rivers State. The illegal refineries destroyed at Bolo Creek had several storage tanks and 2 wooden boats laden with about 80,000 litres of suspected stolen crude oil and 65,000 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO). Furthermore, the illegal refineries destroyed in Isaka axis had storage pits laden with 45,000 litres of suspected stolen crude oil and 5,000 litres of illegally refined AGO.
Similarly, a patrol team deployed by the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Bonny arrested a vessel, MT LEADERSHIP around Onne axis for conducting illegal bunkering operations. The vessel was arrested receiving unspecified amount of petroleum products suspected to be illegally refined AGO from a barge without valid naval approval. The vessel had 12 crewmen while 16 men were on the barge. The vessel and the barge are currently under the custody of the Base while investigation is ongoing.
In view of the foregoing, the Nigerian Navy wishes to reiterate that the clampdown on illegal refineries and their operators, crude oil thieves and other criminal activities in the maritime domain will continue to meet operational objectives in line with the Chief of Naval Staff’s Strategic Directive.