The Boskalis semi-submersible heavy lift vessel Blue Marlin was ransacked by pirates offshore West Africa on Sunday, causing damage that has left the ship inoperable.
All 20 crew members are reported safe and in good health.
Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. confirmed Tuesday that the vessel was “hijacked” approximately 80 nautical miles off the coast of Equatorial Guinea.
The vessel had just unloaded cargo in Equatorial Guinea waters and departed for Malta when the incident occurred Sunday afternoon.
According to Boskalis, the Blue Marlin was boarded from a zodiac by several armed pirates. The company confirms that all 20 crew members successfully locked themselves inside the ship’s citadel where they were able to contact local authorities from Equatorial Guinea and the NATO mission MDAT-GoG (Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea).
Two helicopters were immediately mobilized from Equatorial Guinea, along with an Equatorial Guinea naval vessel and a vessel from the Spanish navy, part of the MDAT-GoG mission.
The Blue Marlin was boarded by the Equatorial Guinea and Spain navies at first light Monday morning. At that time, no pirates remained on board the vessel and the crew was freed from the citadel.
Boskalis said the pirates fired their weapons several times while onboard, resulting in substantial material damage to the bridge that has left the ship “unsailable”. Boskalis has now mobilized a oceangoing tug to take the Blue Marlin to a safe location.
The Equatorial Guinea navy has left five armed guards on board to protect the Blue Marlin.
“I want to express my compliments to our crew for their extremely professional and adequate actions in this life threatening situation,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis. “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 into safety.”