ARX Mouldings is following reports that contrary to claims, the Nigerian Navy has said the vessel, Motor Tanker (MT) Heroic Idun, resisted arrest by NNS GONGOLA. The Service refuted reports of piracy attacks in Nigerian waters.
It attributed the subsequent arrest of the vessel at Equatorial-Guinea to renewed cooperation and collaboration among the Gulf of Guinea nations.
In a statement signed by the director of Information Naval Headquarters, Commodore Adedotun Olukayode Ayo-Vaughan, when he reacted to reported piracy attacks and theft of crude oil worth millions of naira, said the Nigerian Navy personnel on 7th August 2022 while on a routine patrol saw and reported the unusual presence of (MT Heroic Idun at the Akpo Oil Field, Deep Offshore Bonny
He said the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) with IMO Number: 9858058 is a 336 metre long tanker with a carrying capacity of 299,995 metric tonnes reportedly owned by Hunter Tankers AS, a Norwegian company with its headquarters in Scandinavia but operated by Trafigura Maritime Logistics, a Dutch company.
“The vessel had arrived at the Total Safe Anchorage (SA) run by Akpo Oil Field for loading operations, but after being questioned by the Nigerian Navy, it was discovered that it lacked the necessary NNPC approval. Nevertheless, on August 8, 2022, MT HEROIC IDUN went through with the loading operation at the Akpo Single Buoy Mooring (SBM),” he said.
Ayo-Vaughan said the Nigerian Navy Ship GONGOLA prevented MT HEROIC IDUN from continuing since she had not submitted her NNPC approval paperwork for the loading procedure.
He said the VLCC resisted arrest when ordered to stop by NNS GONGOLA and the supertanker escaped towards the Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone Area.
“The captain of the MT HEROIC IDUN then disclosed that he had been told not to follow any orders from the Nigerian Navy by Messrs Inchape Shipping, the company that owns IDUN Maritime Limited.
“The supertanker then fled toward the Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone Area after the VLCC refused to halt when NNS GONGOLA asked it to. MT HEROIC IDUN claimed her contact with NNS GONGOLA as a sea robbery/pirate attack on several international maritime security watch platforms in an effort to be sneaky and rationalise her escape,” he said.
Ayo-Vaughan said the vessel reported her encounter with NNS GONGOLA as a sea robbery/pirate attack on various international maritime security watch platforms in bid to be mischievous and justify her escape.
“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, ‘on 9 August 2022, the Regional Centre (CRESMAO) received a report 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. 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.
Upon the receipt of intelligence that the vessel did not have necessary approval to load crude oil from the terminal, the Nigerian Navy dispatched a vessel to investigate. Investigation through radio communication with the vessel revealed that the tanker did not have the appropriate documentation for the intended purpose.
The head of CRESMAO confirmed that the captain of the tanker refused to cooperate and rather altered course towards Sao Tome and Principe and later 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.
He said, “Arising from the foregoing, it is very important that incidents, especially of piracy reported by vessels, need to be cross 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” he quoted.
He said the news of the arrest of MT HEROIC IDUN by the Equatorial-Guinean Navy (EGN) on August 12, 2022, barely four days after the supertanker assumed she had evaded arrest by the Nigerian Navy and also made a false alarm of a sea robbery/pirate attack that never happened, was a demonstration of the renewed cooperation and collaboration among the Gulf of Guinea nations.