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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Heroic Idun Released from Nigeria

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 29, 2023

Source: Nigerian Navy

Source: Nigerian Navy

The Nigerian Navy announced the release of the VLCC Heroic Idun on Saturday, and the crew and vessel are now reportedly sailing for South Africa.

The navy said the “grave infractions” of the vessel were prosecuted by the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt on January,10 2023. The 26 foreign crew pleaded guilty and elected voluntarily to enter into a plea bargain that involved paying fines and making an apology to the Federal Republic of Nigeria in print and electronic media as well as Llyod's List – which occurred on May 12.

The navy’s post states that: “The vessel regretted the false pirate attack alarm she raised on 7 August 2022 which was in clear defiance of the State being that she disobeyed the orders of Nigerian Navy Ship Gongola after an attempt to load crude oil without appropriate approvals from NNPCL and the necessary security clearance. The subsequent transfer of the ship from Equatorial Guinea after she had escaped Nigerian waters and her prosecution under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, 2019 further demonstrates the Nigerian Navy’s practical commitment to ensure that only valid and authorized vessels are allowed to carry out export of crude oil or gas at the various oil terminals.”

The vessel’s release comes with a warning: “The Nigerian Navy will not fail to bring to book those whose operation infringe on the provisions of the SPOMO Act and all maritime laws and conventions acceded to by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The Nigerian navy said in a statement at the time that the Heroic Idun was attempting to load oil at Akpo on August 8 without due clearance from the state oil company and that it resisted arrest when ordered to stop.

Previous statements from the ship manager OSM in August last year indicate that the Nigerian Navy approached the vessel under cover of darkness in a way that caused the crew to think it was a pirate attack, hence its rapid movement out into international waters. A few days later, at the request of the Nigerian navy, the vessel was interdicted in international waters by a navy vessel from Equatorial Guinea and at gunpoint escorted to Malabo where it was held allegedly for not displaying the Equatorial Guinean flag.

A fine was paid at the end of September against a promise of release of the vessel and its crew. However, both the ship and crew remained in captivity. OSM was then informed that a decision has been made by the authorities of Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria to move the vessel back to Nigeria for further investigations.

OSM Group CEO, Finn Amund Norbye, said at the time: “The vessel and its 26 multinational crew members have now been detained in Equatorial Guinea for more than 80 days. The seafarers have been treated as criminals, without any formal charges or legal process for close to three months. It is nothing short of a shocking maritime injustice.”

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