Update: MT Maximus Hijackers Arrested and on Display in Nigeria
The Nigerian Navy on Monday publicly paraded the pirates, who were arrested for hijacking the Panamanian oil tanker MT Maximus which the navy released in a night-time gun battle with the pirates near Sao Tome.
Namely, the six bare-chested men, all of Nigerian nationality, were paraded in front of the international media in Lagos as the ship was escorted in the port.
As informed by the navy, one pirate was killed in the armed standoff. The body of the deceased was last seen being taken from the tanker on Monday at the Lagos naval base, CNN reported.
The ship, owned by UAE, was attacked by armed pirates on February 11 in the Gulf of Guinea, off Abijan, Ivory Coast. There were 18 crew members on board from India, Pakistan, China, South Korea, Sudan and Ghana when the ship was hijacked.
The pirates intended to sell the ship’s 4,700 tons of diesel fuel on the black market and had renamed the ship to MT Elvis 3.
On Saturday, the navy managed to release the crew in a rescue operation, however; it is said that two crew members are still missing, one Pakistani and one Indian.
Nigerian naval vessels NNS Okpabana and NNS Sagbama had tracked the movements of the tanker, along with MT Dejikin, which had been used as the offload tanker onto which the cargo of oil had been transferred.
According to Indian defense attache, Capt. Gautam Marwaha, cited by Associated Press, the two were taken in a pirate vessel and the authorities have not yet received a demand for ransom.
MT Maximus has since been escorted to Lagos port pending further investigations.
“Despite the fall in the frequency of hijackings in the region, this latest hijack highlights the continued threat that exists to product tankers. Dryad reiterates that the gang responsible for this attack are a separate group to the Pirate Action Group (PAG) that has been operating off the Niger Delta during the early weeks of 2016. That gang remains unaccounted for, and are likely to conduct further attacks against a range of commercial vessels with the intent to kidnap of crew for ransom, and not hijack of tankers for their cargo of oil,” Dryad Maritime said.
“The actions of the Nigerian Navy (NN) in resolving the hijacking of MT Maximus are commendable. Despite this, Dryad remain concerned that the West African navies are unable to deter attacks occurring outside of their nations territorial waters, and that further raids against shipping outside of the 12 NM limit are likely to continue across the region and off Nigeria in particular.”
World Maritime News Staff