The Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT has disclosed that it arrested a vessel MT SAISNIL II suspected to be involved in crude oil theft.
A statement at the weekend by the Base Information Officer, Lieutenant Hussaini Ibrahim, also confirmed that “The St. Vincent & Grenadines flag vessel had 11 crew members onboard as at the time of arrest.”
The navy commeneded the dedication of the BEECROFT patrol team under the Commander, Commodore Kolawole Olumide Oguntuga, who is also the Maritime Component Commander Operation AWATSE.
According to the statement, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral MB Hassan, while speaking with journalists onboard the vessel, said that 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 stated that the activities of a vessel would not be determined when such systems were turned off and such occasions were when illegalities were being perpetrated.
He explained that the infraction necessitated the deployment of Nigerian Navy Ship SOKOTO, which sailed 199 nautical miles to intercept and returned the vessel to Lagos Anchorage.
Describing the movement of the vessel from Lagos to Port Harcourt in Rivers State, the Flag Officer said that SAISNIL II initially sailed from Lagos Anchorage on 23 November 2023 to Taraba Jetty in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to evacuate about 720,000 Liters 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 stated that samples of the product onboard have been taken for analysis at the appropriate laboratory and the outcome of the analysis would determine the next line of action.
He further stated that the vessel is opened to any agency that wants to get samples onboard for analysis to confirm the product it is carrying.
According to him, this became necessary as the Nigerian Navy remains resolute in ensuring transparency towards ensuring holistic 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 Vice Admiral EI Ogalla, Chief of the Naval Staff, emphasizing the Navy’s unweaving commitment to eradicating crude oil theft within the nation’s maritime environment for economic prosperity of our dear nation,” the statement reads in part.