NNS Thunder detains illegal oil bunkering vessel


The Nigerian Navy’s NNS Thunder, which recently entered service after being transferred from the United States, has recorded its first law enforcement success, detaining a vessel illegally bunkering oil.

The MT Takoradi was detained on the night of January 26 at Escravos in the Niger Delta after it was discovered to be carrying a million litres of automotive gas oil (AGO). The NNS Thunder was on a routine patrol as part of Operation Pulo Shield, a Joint Task Force initiative to monitor illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta, when she discovered the Takoradi.

The NNS Thunder’s achievement was announced on Wednesday by Chairman of the Joint Security Information Managers Committee and Director of Defence Information (DDI), Colonel Mohammed Yerima.

The Joint Task Force said that Operation Pulo Shield had resulted in the destruction of around 6 000 illegal oil refineries across the Niger Delta last year and that 150 people were arrested. The task force’s spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Antigha told journalists that five ships and four barges used in the illegal oil trade were also seized in 2011.

Yerima told the press about NNS Thunder’s activities during the announcement that police and soldiers had seized a large arms and ammunition cache during a raid in pursuit of Boko Haram suspects. Yerima said that ten AK-47s, 26 magazines and nearly 140 rounds of ammunition were recovered, Nigeria’s Daily Sun reports.

The Nigerian Navy received the former US Coast Guard Cutter Chase (WHEC-718) late last year, and renamed the Hamilton class vessel NNS Thunder. Nigeria’s Navy is seeking government approval to acquire up to 49 ships and 42 helicopters over the next ten years to police the nation’s territorial waterways and Gulf of Guinea. It has already acquired dozens of small boats for such duties.