Nigerian Navy praised for response to attack of merchant vessel off Benin


The Nigerian Navy has been praised for its role in the rescue of 11 crewmembers aboard the cargo vessel Tommi Ritscher after it was attacked by pirates off the coast of Benin on 18 April.

At the time of the attack, there were 19 people on board, comprising Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Filipino crewmembers. Responding to the incident, the Benin Navy requested assistance from the Nigerian Navy on 19 April. Eight crewmembers were kidnapped from the vessel while the remaining 11 locked themselves in the citadel. They were subsequently rescued by the Nigerian and Benin Navies on 20 April after Beninese and Nigerian patrol boats kept an eye on the Tommi Ritscher overnight.

The Tommi Ritscher came alongside to Cotonou Port for a more comprehensive search of the ship on 21 April.

Chief of Naval Staff of the Benin Navy, Captain Albert Ezin Badou, expressed his gratitude to the Nigerian Navy Ship Ose’s crew under the command of the Officer-in-Charge of the ship, Lieutenant Bilyaminu Umar Abubakar. The Ose is an Ocea FPB 72 patrol boat that was commissioned in 2017.

“From the moment you arrived Benin territorial waters on 19 April, you demonstrated good seamanship and security awareness in jointly patrolling the sea around the vessel with our Benin Navy patrol boats. This effort prevented further insecurity incidences relating to the vessel and helped build confidence in our maritime security response against piracy in the ECOWAS Zone ‘E’ maritime domain,” he said.

He also praised the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service team that participated in the rescue for boarding the hijacked vessel to rescue the 11 crew members without any casualty.

The Gulf of Guinea remains the world’s top piracy hotspot and attacks and piracy incidents in and off Benin anchorage have increased, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). The IMB reported 21 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of 2020, with three ship attacks including two instances of crew kidnappings off Benin.