Nigeria was at the weekend saved from the negative publicity of being tagged an unsafe sea territory when a combined team of Nigeria Navy and Ocean Marine Solution Limited (OMSL) rescued a Chinese cargo ship and its crew members attacked in the Gulf of Guinea by pirates and nefarious criminals.
According to reports obtained from FleetMon Explorer, an international news agency, a general cargo ship ‘Huanghai Glory,’ which left the Lekki Port, east of Lagos last Thursday was reported to have been attacked and boarded by pirates at 1820 UMT some 85 nautical miles (NM) south of Lagos, Nigeria.
According to the report, the ship and its 23 Chinese crew members were said to have been under the siege of the pirates for about 24 hours after the matter was reported to the Nigerian authorities.
Independent investigation by our reporters indicated that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), was informed but allegedly could not render any rescue efforts until a patrol boat (NNS SPARROW) owned and operated by the joint team of Nigeria Navy and OMSL under the Safe Anchorage Area (SSA) of Lagos port rose to the occasion.
Narrating the incident, FleetMon Explorer stated that tracking process monitored showed that, “the ship started moving at around 1300 UTC Mar 6, after about an hour went adrift again. As of 1500 UTC Mar 6, the ship was still adrift or moving at slow speed.”
It, however, explained that, “Nigerian Navy patrol boat NNS SPARROW approaching – in nearly 24 hours after alert, in vicinity of Lagos.”
“The ship left Lekki port, east of Lagos, understood on March 5, 2020 though AIS track looks somewhat different with positions and time not exactly fitting in the story.
Although, FleetMon Explorer did not expatiate on the details of the patrol boat, NNS SPARROW, which it said rescued the ship and its crew members, our investigations confirmed that it belonged to OMSL, as it is part of the vessels purchased by the firm and hitherto deployed to the Lagos water coast in assisting the Nigerian Navy to carry out patrol operations as part of the SSA agreement.
Our findings show that the ship ‘Huanghai Glory,’ which was rescued by the ‘NNS SPARROW’ is not under any contractual agreement with OMSL before it offered to intervene on the platform of national interest.
Speaking on the development, a Lagos-based freight forwarder, Mr. Mark Okonkwo, who claimed to be aware of the incident told our reporter that, if not for the swift intervention of the OMSL rescue vessel, Nigeria would have, once again, come under negative publicity.
When contacted, the Deputy Director, Corporate and Strategy Communication of NIMASA, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, said he had no detail of the alleged attack.
He, however, promised to find out the true position from the agency’s Maritime Guard Command for details.
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