Nigeria was at the weekend saved from the negative publicity of being reputed to have unsafe sea territory when piracy and nefarious criminal activities strive as a combined team Nigeria Navy and Ocean Marine Solution Limited (OMSL) rescued a Chinese cargo ship attacked 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, east of Lagos Nigeria on Thursday, March 5, 2020, was reported to have been attacked and boarded by pirates at 1820 UMT some 85 nautical miles (NM) south of Lagos Nigeria.
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 after the matter was reported to the Nigerian authorities.
Independent investigation by our reporters revealed that neither the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) nor the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA), whom reliable source said were adequately informed 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 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.”
Adding that, “The ship was drifting after the 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 the to 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 the details of patrol boat NNS SPARROW which rescued the ship and its crew members our investigation confirmed that it belong to OMSL, as it is part of the vessels purchased by the firm and hitherto deployed to the Lagos water coast in assisting the Nigerian Navy to carry out patrol operations as part of the SSA agreement which has in recent times come under attack by the management of NPA.
Recall that the move was perceived by some industry stakeholders as an attempt to further increase the level of unemployment in the country as well as frustrate a noble ideal put in place to secure the nation’s maritime space especially the Lagos port from embarrassing situations such as what occurred during the weekend.
Interestingly, our findings show that the ship ‘Huanghai Glory,’ which was rescued by the ‘NNS SPARROW’ is 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 freight forwarder, Mr. Mark Okonkwo, who claimed to be aware of the incident told Vanguard 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.”
He noted that if not for the swift intervention of the OMSL rescue vessel Nigeria would have once again come under negative publicity.
He, therefore enjoined the port regulators to shield their swords and allow for private sector participation in the security of the nation’s seaports.
He added that OMSL should be encouraged to set up the same security outfit with the Navy in the Warri and Bonny area which have now become a pirate zone.