Dutch firm Boskalis has informed that its heavy transport vessel Blue Marlin was hijacked on Sunday approximately 80 nautical miles offshore Equatorial Guinea.
In a statement on Tuesday announcing the news, Boskalis said that “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.”
According to Boskalis, after unloading a cargo in the waters of Equatorial Guinea, the Blue Marlin departed last Sunday with destination Malta.
“Sunday afternoon, the ship was unlawfully boarded from a zodiac by several armed pirates. By acting quickly and professionally, all twenty crew members were able to secure themselves in the citadel,” Boskalis said.
A citadel is a secured space in the vessel equipped with various means of communication and emergency rations
“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,” Boskalis said.
“Monday morning at daylight, the Blue Marlin 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. The vessel is currently approximately 40 miles offshore Equatorial Guinea, in international waters,” Boskalis added.
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, Boskalis said.
The Spanish Defense Ministry tweeted that its Serviola patrol vessel freed the crew from the citadel, without finding the pirates aboard.
El patrullero Serviola @Armada_esp, 🇪🇸 que se encontraba patrullando al oeste de Malabo, en el Golfo ee Guinea, liberó a la tripulación de un mercante maltés que se encontraba aislada en la ciudadela, en acción conjunta con una fragata guineana, sin encontrar piratas a bordo. pic.twitter.com/Lv5XrFa4RY
— Estado Mayor Defensa (@EMADmde) May 7, 2019