Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Giant Heavy Transport Vessel Hit by Pirates and Disabled

Authorities Respond in Force
Shipping News Feature
EQUATORIAL GUINEA – The Royal Boskalis Westminster NV (Boskalis) the 76,000 dwt heavy transport vessel Blue Marlin was hijacked on May 5, approximately 80 nautical miles offshore Equatorial Guinea. The massive ship is designed to transport semi-submersible drilling rigs to site. Thanks to a well drilled crew, and the coordinated support from the navy of Equatorial Guinea and Spain, the violent hijacking was ended without any casualties and the crew was safely freed.

After unloading a cargo in the waters of Equatorial Guinea, the Blue Marlin departed last Sunday destined for Malta. In the afternoon of Sunday 5 May, the ship was unlawfully boarded from a zodiac RIB by several armed pirates. By acting quickly and professionally, all twenty crew members were able to secure themselves in the citadel, a highly secured space in the vessel equipped with various means of communication and emergency rations.

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

Monday morning at daylight, the Blue Marlin was boarded and fully searched by the navy crews of Equatorial Guinea and Spain. No pirates were found and the crew was freed from the citadel. All the crew members are in good health. 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. The vessel is currently approximately 40 miles offshore Equatorial Guinea, in international waters with repairs under way.

After the freeing of the Blue Marlin, the Spanish naval vessel left Monday afternoon, followed in the evening by the naval vessel of Equatorial Guinea. The latter vessel left five armed guards on board to protect the ship. Boskalis has now mobilised an oceangoing tug to take the Blue Marlin to a safe location. 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."

Photo: credit - Bastien Robilliard & Philippe Roy