Written by Benjamin Glover
The Ghana Navy on Saturday captured eight pirates involved in the hijacking of a crude oil tanker on the high seas.
The pirates were armed but no one, including a nine-member crew aboard MT Mariam, was injured when the Ghana Navy crew aboard GNS Blika effected the arrest 26 nautical miles south east of Tema after the ship had drifted into Ghanaian waters.
The owner of MT Mariam, Mr Nakase Sunday told journalists in Tema that the hijacking occurred at 5:00 am on January 11, 2014 at Warri in Nigeria, adding that the vessel contains approximately 1,500 metric tomes of crude oil when it was captured by the pirates.
The hijackers seized the vessel and allegedly drained it of its oil.
Mr. Nakase said the ship was en route to Togo when it was captured. He said he immediately flew into Ghana last Friday after he had detected via a tracking system that the ship had drifted into the Ghanaian waters and quickly approached the Ghana Navy for assistance.
He was full of commendation to the Ghana Navy for the swift response which led to the capture of all the pirates and saving the lives of his crew and vessel, adding that though the products were lost, he was glad the crew and vessel were safe.
All eight pirates, identified to be Nigerians have been brought ashore at Tema pending further investigations. They are Molih Williams, 32; Peggy Aki, 32; Ebiyaibo Amos, 32 and Molih Klinsman, 31.
The rest are David Jacob, 30; Ayetimiyi Oyinle, 29; Pinamo Samiyo, 26 and Picolo John, 25.
The Navy crew retrieved an amount of $1,270 and 43,850 Naira as well as four AK 47 assault rifles, ten fully loaded AK47 magazines with a total of 300 rounds of ammunition, one pump action gun, 18 mobile phones, one digital camera, one hair clipper, three hand held VHF radio, seven wrist watches and other personal belongings from the pirates.
MT Mariam has since docked at the Tema Port and is under armed guard.
Lt Commander Michael Duvor, Commanding Officer of GNS Blika, said while on operational duties on Saturday, they received information on a pirate attack on MT Mariam from the Acting Command Operations Officer, Lt Commander Theophilus Kafui Agbemabiase.
He said the crew set sail at about 8:05 am and on arrival deployed a search team into the ship who conducted a thorough search of the vessel. According to him, the pirates went into hiding and a search led to the arrest of five in the engine room and another three in the forecastle section of the vessel.
He said the Navy crew boarded MT Mariam at 11:40 am and completed the operation at 3:00 pm.
The Tema Metropolitan Security Council Chairman, Mr Isaac Ashai Odamtten commended the officers, men and women of the Eastern Naval Command for remaining committed to ensuring that Ghana’s territorial waters are safe.
“Clearly, the navy has shown what they are made of. They picked solid intelligence, responded very fast and ensured that the safe waters we have maintained over the years are free of piracy and this arrest has given it a further boost,” he said.
He also commended them for the professional manner in which the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Commodore Steve Kwaku Darbo and his personnel discharge their duties and stressed that he has no doubt that the Ghana Navy and the allied agencies in the Metropolis will live up to expectation.
Commodore Darbo said the command will continue to work diligently to maintain security both on land and at sea.