A heavy transport vessel operated by maritime service firm Boskalis was the victim of a “violent” hijacking on Sunday, the Dutch firm has revealed.
The 20-crew vessel was unlawfully boarded from a zodiac “by several armed pirates” en route to Malta.
According to Boskalis, the Blue Marlin vessel was commandeered approximately 80 miles off the coast of Equatorial Guinea.
The firm added that upon being boarded, all twenty crew members were able to secure themselves in the citadel – a secured space in the vessel equipped with various means of communication and emergency rations.
A large-scale response was put into action from the navy of Equatorial Guinea and Spain upon being alerted to the situation.
Once the crew had 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.
On Monday the boat was boarded by authorities who found no pirates on board and all crew were safely released from the citadel.
Boskalis said 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.
Five armed guards from the naval vessel of Equatorial Guinea were left on board to safeguard the protection of the Blue Marlin.
Peter Berdowski, CEO Boskalis, said: “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.”