The Defence headquarters on Thursday disclosed that Gallant Special Boat Service Forces of the Nigerian Navy, deployed by the Nigerian Navy Ship, ‘Nguru’, on 15 May 2020, stormed a Chinese Vessel, ‘MV Hailufang II’ which was earlier hijacked by pirates off the coast of Cote D’ Ivoire and rescued all the 18 crew members.
The rescue came after the Special Forces engaged the pirates in heavy gun battle in the sea during which 10 of the pirates were arrested and the vessel fully recovered.
Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche while giving details of the operation, said, “The pirates took control of the vessel and directed the vessel towards Nigerian waters. The vessel had 18 crew members comprising Chinese, Ghanaians and Ivorians. The Nigerian Navy was alerted of the pirate attack and immediately, the Nigerian Navy Ship Nguru was dispatched to intercept the vessel.
“On interception of the vessel at about 140 nautical miles south of Lagos Fairway Buoy, the pirates refused to comply with the orders of the Nigerian Navy Ship, hence the Nigerian Navy had to conduct an opposed boarding of the vessel (engage in combat). All the ship crews were safely rescued, while the 10 pirates were also arrested.
Speaking on operational successes against economic sabotage and oil thievery, the coordinator said, “Under operation Delta Safe Area of responsibility, Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Delta conducted anti-illegal bunkering/Crude Oil Theft (COT) operations around Ugbodede, Uwakeno, Opumami, and Banga Communities and around Escravos general area in Warri South LGA of Delta State.
“During the operations, the team located and dismantled illegal refining sites and a wooden boat with 3 coolers, 136 dugout pits, 201 surface metal storage tanks and 174 ovens laden with about 14,434 barrels of suspected stolen crude oil as well as 1,385,000 liters of product suspected to be illegally refined AGO.
“The storage facilities were dismantled. No arrest was made as operators of the illegal refining sites fled on sighting the team. Meanwhile, the illegal refining sites have been earmarked for swamp buggy operation.
“Similarly, on 11 May 20, Forward Operating Base Escravos intercepted 3 large wooden boats around Madangho and Sara Creek in Warri South LGA of Delta State.
“The boats were laden with about 12.6barrels of suspected stolen crude oil and 43,000 liters of products suspected to be illegally refined AGO.
“Equally, on 12 May 20, the team discovered 7 refining units, 13 metal storage tanks and 4 dugout pits with about 440.3 barrels of stolen crude oil and 180,000 liters of products suspected to be illegally refined AGO.
“The boats, items and products discovered in the course of the operation were impounded.
“In the same vein, on 11 May 20, Forward Operating Base Ibaka patrol team around Effiat Waterways intercepted an abandoned wooden boat laden with 310 units of 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled from the Republic of Cameroon.
“Similarly, on 14 May 20, the Base patrol team intercepted an abandoned medium size wooden boat laden with about 67 drums of products suspected to be PMS around Enwang Creek.
“The seized bags of foreign parboiled rice, boat and drums of suspected PMS are currently in Forward Operating Base Ibaka custody.”