MT Maximus Hijacking
On 11 February 2016 MT Maximus was hijacked off Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Somewhere along the way it was renamed MT Elvis-5. The vessel was followed by the respective West African navies for more than 800M past the coastal waters of five countries before the vessel was seized by the Nigerian Navy on 21 February 2016.
Earlier in February while the USNS Spearhead, a US Navy Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) was participating in a training exercise with Ghanaian maritime agencies, word came from the French Embassy that a supposed pirate vessel was loitering off Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
On 11 February 2016 pirates hijacked the tanker, MT Maximus carrying 4 700 tons of diesel fuel. The USNS Spearhead tracked the Maximus for two days until it entered Ghanaian waters. The Ghana Navy tracked the vessel to Togo from where the Togo Navy followed the vessel to Sao Tome and Principe. The Sao Tome Government contacted the Nigerian government for assistance The Nigerian Navy deployed NNS Okpabana, NNS Centenary and NNS Sagbama to assist in a rescue operation.
The pirates refused to surrender and fired at the Nigerian vessels. After an eight hour standoff between the Nigerian Navy and the pirates, the Navy decided to board the vessel. One pirate was killed during the assault and six were captured. 18 crew members were freed but two pirates escaped with two hostages presumably the previous night. The hostages remain in captivity.
The 18 man crew were locked in the citadel for eight days. They were assaulted by the pirates. Two crew members, an Indian and a Pakistani are still in captivity.
The pirates fired on the MT Maximus and took control of the vessel. They damaged the radar system. They were professional sailors as they took control of and sailed the vessel themselves.
The pirates arrested were of Ghanaian and Nigerian nationalities. They are Mike Ogboroma (Capt), Ayo Joshua, Marcus Adesoji, Adeyemi Paul, Oluwafemi Samuel and Collins Friday. During the arrest 11 phones including a satellite phone, nine SIM cards, different currencies including Ghana cedis, dollars, pounds, naira and euro, two AK47 guns and a double barrel gun, as well as ammunition were confiscated.
The Pirate Vessels
A mother vessel was used to attack the MT Maximus and a tanker was to be used to fuel transfer vessel. The transfer vessel, a tanker MT Dejikun was allegedly hijacked at Lagos Port to be used for the purpose. It is indicated that the pirates crewed the Dejikun themselves.
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