Navy Commends Arrest Of Vessel After False Alarm

The Nigerian Navy, NN has welcomed the news of the arrest of a sea vessel, Motor Tanker (MT) HEROIC IDUN, after it resisted arrest by the NN, and claimed it had been attacked by sea pirates.

Nigerian Navy’s Director of Information, DINFO, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, who made this known on Wednesday, 17 August, 2022, explained that the arrest of the vessel by relevant authorities, who also refutted the false claims by the vessel, was welcoming news in the light of the cooperation and collaboration among the Gulf of Guinea nations to rid the region of sea pirates.

TheFact Daily recalls that the International Maritime Bureau, IMB, had, in its March 2022 report, delisted Nigeria from its list of piracy-prone countries, following a successive decline in reported cases of piracy and sea robbery attacks within the country’s maritime domain, leading to improved shipping into Nigeria’s waters with attendant positive impact on the nation’s economy.

Explaining the circumstances leading to the arrest of the vessel, Ayo-Vaughan said the vessel, which had on 7 August, arrived the Total Safe Anchorage (SA) operated by Akpo Oil Field for loading operations, was interrogated by the Nigerian Navy and found to be without NNPC due clearance for the loading operations.
Notwithstanding, MT HEROIC IDUN proceeded for the loading operation at the Akpo Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) on 8 August 2022.

The vessel was however stopped by NNS GONGOLA from proceeding further, for not having produced her NNPC clearance papers for the loading operation. The Captain of MT HEROIC IDUN refused to cooperate, explaining that he was instructed by his ship’s agent, Messrs Inchape Shipping (owners of IDUN Maritime Limited), not to obey any directive from the Nigerian Navy.

The VLCC subsequently resisted arrest when ordered to stop, and escaped towards the Nigeria–Sao Tome Joint Development Zone Area, where she mischievously reported her encounter with NNS GONGOLA as a sea robbery/pirate attack, on various international maritime security watch platforms.

This false alarm of sea robbery/pirate attack was also revealed and refuted by the Head of the Regional Centre for Maritime Security for West Africa, Abidjan, Rear Admiral Istifanus Albarra, who mentioned that a report had been received from the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) Zone E, on an attempted boarding of a Tanker between 10 to 15 Nautical Mile (Nm) of Akpo oil field in Nigeria.

Albarra had confirmed that the Vessel, a Marshall Island registered VLCC HEROIC IDUNIN (IMO 98580581) entered Nigerian waters with the intention to load crude oil from the Akpo offshore oil terminal, and that the NN dispatched a vessel to go and investigate, follows the receipt of intelligence that the vessel did not have necessary approval to load crude oil from the terminal. Albarra further confirmed that the Nigerian Navy Investigation through radio communication with the vessel, revealed that the Tanker did not have the appropriate documentation for the intended purpose.

According to the NN Director of Information, the Head of CRESMAO confirmed the refusal of the Captain of the Tanker to cooperate, but rather altered course towards Sao-Tome and Principe and later deliberately raised false alarm to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) that she was under pirate attack. This information was subsequently broadcasted by IMB to the relevant international authorities and stakeholders.

The Admiral noted that, “arising from the foregoing, it is very important that incidences, especially of piracy reported by vessels needs to be crossed checked with the relevant authorities (particularly the Yaounde Architecture) to authenticate the veracity or otherwise before broadcast. This is in order not to raise false alarms especially at this time when the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain has recorded a drastic reduction in maritime incidences as compared to 2 years ago. IMB therefore is entreated to cancel this alert broadcast, coordinate with the appropriate authorities and put out the right information”.

Ayo-Vaughan disclosed that MT HEROIC IDUN was arrested by the Equatorial-Guinean Navy (EGN) on 12 August 2022, barely 4 days after the supertanker assumed she had evaded arrest by the Nigerian Navy and also made false alarm of a sea robbery/pirate attack that never happened.

“Equatorial Guinea stopped the MV HEROIC IDUN on the afternoon of 12 August 2022, offshore the Island of Annobon,” according to Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue. The EGN escorted the vessel to Luba, arriving on 13 August 2022″, Ayo-Vaughan said.

“This occurrence reaffirms the renewed regional commitment, collaboration and coordination toward a safe and secured Gulf of Guinea maritime domain that will ensure the development of a sustainable blue economy, as well as the realisation of the goals of the Yaoundé Architecture.

“It is also a strong warning to criminals, their sponsors and connivers that the Nigerian Navy will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the safety and security of Nigeria’s Maritime Environment (NME) as well as the observance of due process and extant regulations by all maritime stakeholders within the NME”, the statement concluded.

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