Rohit Khanna, TNN
KOLKATA: Hopes of bringing back the Indian crew on board the hijacked MT Cotton got a fresh lease of life after the ship was spotted near Togo in West Africa on Thursday. KolkatanShishirWahi is the captain of the ship.
It’s the first time MT Cotton was sighted since it went missing three days ago. But it could not be verified if it was stationary or moving into the high sea.
Ahmet Riza Demirer, ambassador of Turkey at Gabon, said: “We had information on July 18 evening that the ship has been spotted near Togo. It is difficult to specify where the information came from as we gather news from multiple sources.”
The last time the ship was spotted was on Wednesday when it was sailing towards Ivory Coast.
While the ship’s crew recruitment agency V Ships said that the owners are in constant touch with multiple agencies, sources confirmed that Turkish Navy had sought help of the US Navy to track down the ship using satellite images. “Owners of the ship (Geden Lines) are in constant touch with the authorities. But we are yet to receive any official statement. Nothing more could be said at this stage,” Vaibhav Dalvi, crew director of V.Ships, said.
MT Cotton, the oil and chemical carrying Turkish ship, had gone missing from Port Gentil in Gabon in West Africa on July 15. Manned by 24 crew members from India, including six from Kolkata, the tanker left port at 2.03am (IST) on July 14 and stopped blinking on radar around 4.26am on July 15.
According to sources, the ship was spotted 200km west off the shores of Togo, a small country between Ghana and Benin in West Africa. “Yesterday the news was confirmed by the manager, director (harbour) of Lome (capital of Togo) and a top ranking marine official of Togo,” the source said.
Togo, a country 612 nautical miles north-west of Port Gentil, has been subjected to repeated pirate attacks in the past. According to agency reports, pirates looted a chemical tanker off the coast of Togo earlier this week. The reports said that gunmen in speedboats boarded the Marshall Islands-flagged MT Ocean Centurion tanker around 45 nautical miles southeast Lome, coastal capital of Togo.