Leading the charge was the NNS Thunder, a former USCG cutter transferred to the Nigerian Navy. A total 17 ships were stopped on suspicion of carrying stolen crude oil.

LONDON–Nigeria’s navy arrested two ships last week as it carried out a major naval exercise in an effort to tackle rising incidents of oil theft and piracy in the country, a spokesman for the Nigerian navy said Monday.

In August, the 74,998 dwt ENERGY CENTURION was hijacked by Nigerian pirates in an attack that underscored the threat of West African piracy. The pirates released the vessel after stealing cargo and fuel.

“In the course of the exercise seventeen vessels were interrogated and two were arrested because they didn’t have the correct documents,” said Commadore Aliyu, director of naval information.

“Such exercises will be sustained to ensure that illegalities, oil theft, piracy and other criminal activities in our waters are completely eliminated,” he added.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, loses billions of dollars each year as a result of lost revenue due to oil theft.

In the last month attacks on oil pipelines related to oil theft have contributed to significant supply disruptions.

Incidents of piracy in the region have also risen in the last year, with the waters around Nigeria becoming increasingly dangerous.

“There will be more arrests because the efforts are not relenting to stamp out criminality,” said Commadore Aliyu.

By Sarah Kent. (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

The NNS Thunder was formerly the USCGC Chase and was transferred to the Nigerian Navy in 2011.

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