The Panama-flagged chemical/oil tanker Aegean II was not hijacked off the Horn of Africa earlier this month, EU NAVFOR said, citing Somali Bossaso port authority.
The authority said it was Garadfoo police that boarded the 8,100 dwt ship, not pirates. The police was sent to inspect the vessel when it was drifting off Bereeda waiting for technical assistance.
On 18 August, EU NAVFOR OHQ Joint Operations Centre detected suspicious movements when Aegean II, with armed security guards on board in transit from Shajah (UAE) and bound for Mogadishu (Somalia), altered its course without any apparent reason.
Investigations conducted by an EU NAVFOR maritime patrol aircraft including radio contact concluded that the vessel was having technical problems and the crew was safe.
On 20 August, open sources reported that a vessel could have been hijacked in the same area. EU NAVFOR Somalia connected this information to the situation of Aegean II, previously monitored, and frigate ESPS Santa Maria was detached to investigate and execute incident response procedures with the support of a CMF aircraft.
ESPS Santa Maria approached the Panama-flagged tanker and confirmed the initial assessment that the reported suspicious movements were due to damages in the hull caused by rough sea.
While ESPS Santa Maria was collecting information, the Master revealed that there had been certain incidents on board the vessel.
“At this point, the event cannot be classified as a maritime security event, but a more detailed investigation is in progress,” EU NAVFOR said in a statement.
Aegean II weighed anchor and is currently underway proceeding to an intermediate destination being closely monitored by ESPS Santa Maria.