Military Capabilities

Equatorial Guinea helps foil pirate attack

14 May 2019

The Equatorial Guinea navy frigate is seen behind after it was boarded by the Spanish marines on 6 May. Source: Spanish Navy

Equatorial Guinea’s armed forces helped foil a pirate attack on 5 May, but account of the operation provided by the government’s press website differed from others.

The government website published a congratulatory statement from Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue that said a distress call was received from a vessel operated by the TLC Group shipping agency as it returned from delivering a drilling platform in the port of Luba on Bioko island.

The unnamed vessel was hijacked by 10 pirates using a speedboat, but the attack was thwarted by the intervention of Equatorial Guinea’s navy and air force, which rescued the crew and arrested 10 pirates, who are suspected of being Nigerian nationals, the statement said.

This appears to have been the same incident that was reported by the Dutch company Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. in a statement on 7 May. It said its heavy transport vessel Blue Marlin was hijacked about 80 n miles (148 km) off Equatorial Guinea by armed pirates on 5 May. All 20 crew members secured themselves in the ship’s citadel, leaving the pirates to inflict significant damage that prevented the vessel from being sailable.

The Equatoguinean authorities and NATO’s Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) mission were alerted, with the former mobilising two helicopters and a naval vessel, and the latter sending the Spanish patrol ship Serviola , Boskalis said.

The Spanish Defence Staff (EMAD) released a video clip showing marines from Serviola boarding Blue Marlin and freeing its uninjured crew the following morning. The marines did not find any of the seven pirates that the crew said had boarded the ship and fired through a hole they made in the citadel, according to a Spanish Navy statement.

The EMAD credited the Equatoguinean frigate Wele Nzas with participating in the operation.

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