A combined naval operation, under the auspices of ECOWAS Maritime Zone E (Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo and the Gendarmerie of Republic of Niger) involving Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service (NN SBS) operatives and Benin Navy has led to the rescue of 11 crew men onboard a Portuguese flagged container ship, MV Tommi Ritscher in Benin Territorial Waters.
Major General John Enenche, Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, said the vessel was reportedly attacked by gunmen at Zone 3 anchorage in Cotonou waters at about 11pm on 18 April 2020.
“At the time of the attack, there were 19 crew members, comprising Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Filipinos.
“Following the pirate attack, the Nigerian Navy (NN) received a request for assistance from Benin Navy under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of ECOWAS Zone E.“Consequently, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) OSE embarked 10 NN SBS operatives and proceeded to the objective area.
“NNS OSE and the SBS boarding team arrived the objective area on 19 April 2020 to join 2 other vessels (P110 Queme and Zou) from the Benin Navy already in the Area.
“Consequently, NNS OSE and the other 2 Benin Navy patrol boats adopted a patrol plan around the MV Tommi Ritscher throughout the night of 19 Apr 20 to ensure that the pirates, if still onboard would not have any room to escape.