A Royal Boskalis Westminster heavy transport vessel has been recovered and the crew freed after being hijacked on Sunday about 80 miles offshore Equatorial Guinea.
The 225m-long Blue Marlin semisubmersible heavy transport vessel had recently unloaded a cargo in Equatorial Guinea and had set sail for Malta. But, on Sunday afternoon, the ship was unlawfully boarded from a zodiac rigid hulled inflatable boat by several armed pirates, Boskalis confirmed today.
Upon alerting the local authorities of Equatorial Guinea and the NATO mission MDAT-GoG (Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade - Gulf of Guinea), two helicopters were immediately mobilized from Equatorial Guinea, followed by a navy vessel of Equatorial Guinea and one from the Spanish navy, part of the MDAT-GoG mission.
Monday morning at daylight, the Blue Marlin, built in 2000, was boarded and fully searched by the navy of Equatorial Guinea and Spain. No pirates were found and the crew was freed from the citadel. All the crew members are in good health. The pirates shot several times during their time aboard the Blue Marlin and caused substantial material damage on the bridge, preventing the ship from being sailable.
After the freeing of the Blue Marlin, the Spanish naval vessel left Monday afternoon, followed in the evening by the naval vessel of Equatorial Guinea. The latter vessel left five armed guards on board to protect the Blue Marlin. Boskalis has now mobilized a oceangoing tug to take the Blue Marlin to a safe location.
"By acting quickly and professionally, all 20 crew members were able to secure themselves in the citadel... a highly secured space in the vessel equipped with various means of communication and emergency rations," said Boskalis. "Through the professional response of the crew and the coordinated support from the navy of Equatorial Guinea and Spain, the violent hijacking has been ended and the crew was safely freed."
Peter Berdowski, Boskalis' CEO, says: "I want to express my compliments to our crew for their extremely professional and adequate actions in this life threatening situation. I am extremely grateful and in particular thankful to the navy of Equatorial Guinea for their quick and decisive response, as well as to the Spanish navy for their assistance via MDAT-GoG. Because of their actions, this hijacking could be ended quickly and our colleagues were brought into safety."