Fifteen 15 Filipino sailors of a Greek-owned tanker were rescued by Nigerian naval forces a day after their ship was hijacked by pirates last month, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday.
The local manning agency of the Filipino crew reported to the DFA that the vessel MT Norte was seized by armed men on the evening of Aug. 16. Nigerian forces launched the rescue operation on Aug. 17.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Filipinos were all ‚Äúunharmed and safe‚Äù and were brought to the Nigerian Naval Base in Warri state for debriefing after the successful rescue operation.
They returned to their vessel on Thursday and are currently en route to the Nigerian city of Lagos, Hernandez said.
‚ÄúWe have instructed our embassy to visit the seafarers once they arrive Lagos and extend the necessary assistance to them,‚Äù Hernandez said.
The last piracy incident in Nigeria involving Filipino seamen was on Feb. 4, 2013 when pirates attacked MT Pyxis Delta, a Marshall Islands-flagged chemical tanker. The pirates were unsuccessful in their attempt to seize the vessel because of armed personnel on board.
In nearby Somalia, where ransom kidnapping of foreign crew is prevalent, five Filipino seafarers are being held by Somali pirates.
The Philippines is one of the world‚Äôs largest providers of shipping manpower in the world.
A bulk of Filipino seamen or more than 20 percent of the world‚Äôs 1.2 million sailors are manning oil tankers, luxury liners, and passenger vessels worldwide, exposing them to piracy attacks.¬†‚ÄîMichaela del Callar/RSJ, GMA News