Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) reports that the crew of its heavy transport vessel Blue Marlin has been freed and the vessel retaken following a violent hijacking that occurred Sunday, approximately 80 nautical miles offshore Equatorial Guinea.
Boskalis says the hijacking was ended thanks to the professional response of the crew and the coordinated support from the navies of Equatorial Guinea and Spain.
“I want to express my compliments to our crew for their extremely professional and adequate actions in this life threatening situation,” said Boskalis CEO Peter Berdowski. “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 [Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea]. Because of their actions, this hijacking could be ended quickly and our colleagues were brought into safety.”
The incident occurred when the Blue Martin departed for Malta last Sunday after unloading a cargo in the waters of Equatorial Guinea. That afternoon, the Blue Marlin 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, a highly secure space in the vessel equipped with several means of communication.].
On 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 an Equatorial Guinea naval vessel and a Spanish Navy vessel that is part of the MDAT-GoG mission.
Monday morning at daylight, the Blue Marlin was boarded and fully searched by personnel from the two navies. No pirates were found and the crew was freed from the citadel. All the crew members are in good health.
The pirates fired several rounds 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.
After the freeing of the Blue Marlin, the Spanish naval vessel left Monday afternoon, followed in the evening by the Equatorial Guinea naval vessel which left five armed guards on board to protect the heavy lift ship.
Boskalis has now mobilized a oceangoing tug to take the Blue Marlin to a safe location.