Crew of heavy-lift ship freed after hijacking


The following is text of a news release from Boskalis:

(PAPENDRECHT, Netherlands) — The Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) heavy transport vessel Blue Marlin was hijacked on Sunday approximately 80 nautical miles off Equatorial Guinea. 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.

"I want to express my compliments to our crew for their extremely professional and adequate actions in this life threatening situation," said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis. "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."

After unloading a cargo in the waters of Equatorial Guinea, Blue Marlin departed on Sunday with destination Malta. On Sunday afternoon, the ship was unlawfully boarded from a zodiac by several armed pirates. By acting quickly and professionally, all 20 crewmembers were able to secure themselves in the citadel. A citadel is a highly 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.

Monday morning at daylight, 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 crewmembers are in good health. The pirates shot several times during their time aboard Blue Marlin and caused substantial material damage on the bridge, preventing the ship from being sailable. The vessel is currently approximately 40 miles off Equatorial Guinea, in international waters.

After the freeing of 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 Blue Marlin. Boskalis has now mobilized a oceangoing tug to take Blue Marlin to a safe location.

Editor's note: Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. is a global contractor and services provider operating in the dredging, maritime infrastructure and maritime services sectors.

By Professional Mariner Staff