The Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft, under the Command of Commodore Kolawole Olumide Oguntuga, who also is the Maritime Component Commander (Operation AWATSE), has arrested a vessel, Motor Tanker SAISNIL II.
The St. Vincent and Grenadines flag vessel had 11 crew onboard at the time of arrest.
Speaking with journalists onboard the vessel, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral M. B. Hassan, said the vessel was observed to have turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS), which is a grievous infraction within the nation’s maritime domain.
He said activities of the vessel would not be determined when such systems are turned off, and such occasions are when illegalities are perpetrated.
He further said the infraction necessitated the deployment of Nigerian Navy Ship SOKOTO, which sailed 199 nautical miles to intercept and return the vessel to Lagos Anchorage.
According to the Flag Officer, SAISNIL II initially sailed from Lagos Anchorage on November 23, 2023 to Taraba Jetty in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to evacuate about 720,000 litres of crude oil sludge but the manipulation of it AIS around ABO Field for over 48 hours gave rise to a reasonable suspicion of illegalities.
He said samples of the product onboard have been taken for analysis at an appropriate laboratory and the outcome will determine the next line of action.
He further said the vessel is open to any agency that wants to get samples for analysis to confirm the product onboard.
According to him, this is necessary as the Nigerian Navy remains resolute in ensuring transparency in maritime security.
“The successful detection, leveraging technology, and arrest of MT SAISNIL II, despite the distance from the coast, aligns with key priorities of the Strategic Directives of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emnanuel Ogalla, emphasising the Navy’s unweaving commitment to eradicating crude oil theft within the nations maritime environment,” he added.