The Nigerian Navy Thursday announced that it has intercepted a Greek-owned merchant tanker, MT KERALA, which was purportedly hijacked off the coast of Luanda, Angola. Nigerian Navy spokesman, Commodore Kabir Aliyu, said in a statement in Abuja, that “the merchant tanker was intercepted after a four-day 'spirited search' in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said 'This was achieved using the Nigerian Navy’s remote surveillance system and search patrols by her ships.
'MT KERALA is currently under Ghanaian custody in the Port of Tema and Interpol operatives are investigating the circumstances of the hijack of the ship,' the Nigerian Navy said.
'On 23 January, 2014, the Nigerian Navy received a report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) that MT KERALA had been hijacked off Luanda in Angola.
Subsequent reports from IMB on 25 January, located her about 50 nautical miles south west of Pennington Oil Terminal in Nigeria.
Commodore Aliyu stated that “in a swift response, three patrol vessels were deployed to search for MT KERALA. Two other vessels, MT ITRI and a tug boat GARE were reportedly in the vicinity of MT KERALA conducting ship-to-ship transfer of products with KERALA in gross violation of existing regulations in Nigeria.
“Same day, MT ITRI was tracked to Lagos Area and was arrested by a team of Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) personnel. Later in the day, new update reported MT KERALA position at Lat 04046E Long 003026E, which is about 90nm South of Lagos Fairway Buoy. Coincidentally, a new report from IMB and the owners confirmed that MT KERALA had been released by the hijackers at a position Lat 06002’’5N, Long 004030’’E, which is about 20nm off the coast around Aiyetoro in Ondo State.
According to the ship owners, Athens-based Dynacom Tankers, the pirates stole AGO onboard in 3 STS operations; first off the coast of Congo, and off the coast of Nigeria at the following positions; Lat 05003020N and Long 04004020E.'