By AKOMA CHINWEOKE
INTER-AGENCY collaboration between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has ensured that over 400 passengers were rescued from a distressed Sao Tome flagged vessel.
The Vessel, â€œLiliana Carneiroâ€ a small passenger ship built for costal trading, according to press statement signed by the head public relations of NIMASA, C.N Nwokocha, was on voyage from Gabon enroute Cotounou in Benin republic before itÂ ran out of bunkers and water in Nigeriaâ€™s coastal waters.
Captain of the distressed vessel, Captain Do Rosario explained that they left Gabon on Sunday with a projected 72 hours voyage time. He said the crew had to shut down one of the engines when they noticed that the fuel was leaking and would not take them to their destination, adding that the entire fuel got finished when they got to a position off Lagos Fairway Buoy.
Captain Dorosario, who expressed profound gratitude to the Nigerian government for saving the lives of over 400 passengers including children and women and 14 crew members on board, noted that, they only got in touch with Search and Rescue Centre, located at the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Nigeria at 10.00 p.m on Wednesday after several efforts to call for help from their Cotounou destination, failed.
Leader of the search and rescue team from NIMASA, Commander Bako, however, explained that NIMASA immediately alerted the NPA about the situation to ensure effective collaboration to save the distressed vessel. NIMASAÂ and the NPA joint rescue team mobilized and proceeded to the distressed vesselÂ aboutÂ 30 nautical miles offshore to tow the vessel to Commodore pool for the ship to secure bunkers and water.
The rescue team according the statement boarded the vessel and provided first aid attention to those who needed assistance. The team also provided three tonnes of bunkers and two tonnes of water to the vessel. After ascertaining that all the passengers and crew members were medically fit to continue the voyage, the rescue team then carried out Flag State inspection of the vessel and confirmed it seaworthy. It was later allowed to sail to Cotounou, her destination. Bako noted that Nigeria as a signatory to the SOLAS and SAR Conventions,Â is committed to providing assistance and succor to any distressed vessel in the countryâ€™sÂ waters.