The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

Transport vessel registered in Malta involved in ‘violent’ hijack off West Africa

Wednesday, 8 May 2019, 07:38 Last update: about 4 months ago

A special heavy transport vessel registered in Malta and which can at times be seem docked in the Grand Harbour, was involved in a violent hijacking incident off the West African coast.

The 20-crew vessel of the Blue Marlin was unlawfully boarded from a zodiac “by several armed pirates” as it was en route back to Malta from Luba. 

According to Boskalis, the ship’s owner, the vessel was commandeered approximately 80 miles off the coast of Equatorial Guinea. 

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The firm added that upon being boarded, all 20 crew members were able to secure themselves in what is known as ‘The Citadel’ – a secured space in the vessel equipped with various means of communication and emergency rations.

A large-scale response was put into action from the navy of Equatorial Guinea and Spain upon being alerted to the situation.

Once the crew had alerting the local authorities of Equatorial Guinea and the NATO mission MDAT-GoG (Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea), two helicopters were immediately mobilized from Equatorial Guinea, followed by a navy vessel of Equatorial Guinea and one from the Spanish navy, part of the MDAT-GoG mission.

On Monday the boat was boarded by authorities who found no pirates on board and all crew were safely released from The Citadel.

Boskalis said the pirates shot several times during their time aboard the Blue Marlin and caused substantial material damage on the bridge, preventing the ship from being sailable.

Five armed guards from the naval vessel of Equatorial Guinea were left on board to safeguard the ship.

Peter Berdowski, CEO Boskalis, said, “I want to express my compliments to our crew for their extremely professional and adequate actions in this life threatening situation.

“I am extremely grateful  and in particular thankful to the navy of Equatorial Guinea for their quick and decisive response, as well as to the Spanish navy for their assistance via MDAT-GoG. Because of their actions, this hijacking could be ended quickly and our colleagues were brought into safety.”

The pirates had demanded the crew, via PA, to surrender and to give the pirates all their money and valuables. The crew remained in The Citadel but pirates managed to found a hole and fired through it but no one was injured.

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