The Nigerian Navy says its officers have rescued a Cameroonian registered fishing vessel, MFV AFKI, which drifted off its course on October 24 with two crew members on board.
The Director of Naval Information, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, made this known in a statement on Monday, November 20, 2023.
Ayo-Vaughan stated that the Nigerian Navy received distress information about the missing vessel on November 1, saying the information received from the Netherlands Embassy in Nigeria indicated that the vessel was heading to Congo Kinshasa after it left Bangul in Gambia when it drifted off course.
He said while in transit, the vessel suffered depleted fuel to her propulsion engines which resulted to her drifting off the coast of Sao Tome and Principe into Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
The navy spokesperson noted that all efforts by the vessel owners to trace its location for possible rescue proved abortive.
Ayo-Vaughan added: “However, further surveillance revealed that the last known location of the vessel was at about 72 nautical miles from the Nigerian coast.
“Consequently, the NN swiftly deployed Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) DORINA at its Maritime Domain Awareness facilities for Search and Rescue Operation.
“Accordingly, on Nov. 17 at about 20:00 hours, after frantic surveillance by the deployed NN platform, NNS DORINA traced and made contact with the vessel, 17 nautical miles off Pennington terminal.”
Ayo-Vaughan said due diligence was made to ascertain the status of the vessel and was discovered that it had no incriminating items onboard and was subsequently towed to Escravos in Delta.
He said the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base in Escravos took custody of the fishing vessel for further administrative procedures in preparation for handover to the Netherlands embassy.
He stated: “The NN wishes to use this opportunity to once again reassure seafarers and indeed other maritime operators of its commitments to collaborate with local and strategic partners and allies.
“To ensure the safety and security of vessels as well as crew members who carry out legitimate businesses in or transiting Nigerian maritime environment.”