Piracy: Navy, OMSL rescue Chinese cargo ship off Nigeria’s coast

Nigeria’s rating as one of the hotest zones of sea robbery recorded some milestone at the weekend as a combined team of Nigeria Navy and Ocean Marine Solution Limited (OMSL) rescued a Chinese cargo ship attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea. According to reports obtained from FleetMon Explorer, an international news agency, a general cargo ship ‘Huanghai Glory,’ which left the Lekki Port in Lagos on March 5, 2020 was reported to have been attacked and boarded by pirates at 1820 UMT some 85 nautical miles (NM) south of the state. According to the report, the ship and its 23 crew members (all Chinese) were said to have been under the siege of the pirates for about 24 hours when the matter was reported to the Nigerian authorities.

Independent investigation revealed that neither the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) nor the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA), could render any rescue efforts until a patrol boat (NNS SPARROW) owned and operated by the joint team of Nigeria Navy and OMSL under the the Safe Anchorage Area (SSA) of Lagos port rose to the occasion. Narrating the incident, FleetMon Explorer stated: “General cargo ship HUANGHAI GLORY reported by Dryad Global as attacked, boarded by pirates at 1820 UTC Mar 5, some 85 nm south of Lagos Nigeria, Gulf of Guinea.” “The ship was drifting after attack, not responding to contact requests.”

The report 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.”

According to the report, the 23 crew members of the ship were reportedly all Chinese. “The ship left Lekki port, east of Lagos, understood on Mar 5, though AIS track looks somewhat different with positions and time not exactly fitting in the story. “General cargo ship HUANGHAI GLORY, IMO 9458432, dwt 28287, built 2012, flag HK, manager TIANJIN XINHAI INTL SHIP MGMT, Tianjin.”

Although, FleetMon Explorer did not expatiate on details of patrol boat NNS SPARROW which rescued the ship and its crew members investigation confirmed that it belong to OMSL, being part of vessels purchased by the firm and deployed to the Lagos water coast in assisting the Nigerian Navy to carry out patrol operations in line with the SSA agreement which has in recent times come under attack by the management of NPA. Further findings show that the ship ‘Huanghai Glory,’ which was not under any contractual agreement with OMSL before it offered to intervene on the platform of National interest. A source at the firm who confirmed the incident said, “The vessel is not our client but the Navy beckoned on us to assist considering the amount of bureaucracy it would take for them to execute.”

Speaking on the development, Lagos based fright forwarder, Mr.

Mark Okonkwo, who claimed to be aware of the incident told reporters that, “The case was reported to the Navy and neither the Navy nor NIMASA or NPA could make swift move expected for the rescue mission.”

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