Boskalis crew freed after pirate attack in the Gulf of Guinea

Blue Marlin. Credit: Boskalis

The Royal Boskalis Westminster Boskalis heavy transport vessel Blue Marlin was hijacked on Sunday 5 May around 80 nautical miles offshore Equatorial Guinea. After a coordinated response from both the Spanish and Equatorial Guinea navies, the violent hijacking ended and the crew was safely released on Monday morning.

After cargo unloading operations in the waters of Equatorial Guinea, the Blue Marlin departed on route to Malta. In the afternoon of 5 May, the ship was boarded by several armed pirates. The 20 crew members reacted quickly and locked themselves in the citadel, as this is a highly secured space equipped with means of communication and emergency rations.

They alerted local authorities as well as the NATO mission Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG), who deployed two helicopters immediately, followed by a navy vessel from both Equatorial Guinea and the Spanish Navy. All were part of the MDAT-GoG mission.

On the morning of 6 May, the Blue Marlin was boarded and a full search carried out by the navy of Spain and Equatorial Guinea. The crew was then freed from the citadel as no pirates were found onboard and no injuries were recorded.

The ship sustained a lot of damage, as the pirates shot several times while onboard, rendering the ship un-sailable. The vessel is currently situated around 40 miles off the coast of Equatorial Guinea in international waters.

Five armed guards were left onboard the vessel to protect it while Boskalis deployed a tug to tow the Blue Marlin to a safe location for work to be carried out.

CEO of Boskalis, Peter Berdowski, commented, “I want to express my compliments to our crew for their extremely professional and adequate actions in this life threatening situation. I am extremely grateful and in particular thankful to the navy of Equatorial Guinea for their quick and decisive response, as well as to the Spanish navy for their assistance via MDAT-GoG. Because of their actions, this hijacking could be ended quickly, and our colleagues were brought to safety.”