OPV ‘Serviola’ frees a Malta-flagged ship hijacked by pirates.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

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OPV ‘Serviola’ freed a hijacked Maltese ship

On May 5th the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) ‘Serviola’, currently conducting surveillance and maritime security tasks in the Gulf of Guinea, received information from the Spanish Navy Operations and Surveillance Center (COVAM), communicating that there had been a pirate attack on a merchant ship. The OPV immediately proceeded at full speed towards the designated area.

On the morning of May 6th and in collaboration with an Equatorial Guinean Navy frigate, the operation to free the ship began.

With the vague information coming from the hijacked vessel, and considering the possibility that some pirates remained on board, the Marine Corps’ Operational Security Squad of the ‘Serviola’ approached and secured the ship thanks to the VBSS (visit, board, search & seizure) team, made up of members of the Spanish Navy as well as servicemen from the Navy of Equatorial Guinea.

Finally, the 20 crew members that had locked themselves in the so-called ‘panic room were able to leave this safe compartment and reported that they had been kidnapped by a group of seven pirates equipped with portable weapons.

The ship’s captain informed that on the afternoon of May 5th and once the presence of the small pirate boat had been noticed, the general alarm was raised and the entire crew succeeded in reaching the security compartment. From there they managed to report the kidnapping to the competent authorities. Once on board, the pirates demanded through the megaphone system of the ship to surrender and give them all the money they had. When the captain refused to leave the safe compartment, the pirates opened a small hole in it and opened fire indiscriminately but without causing any personal injuries.

The threats and gunfire stopped when the pirates noticed the presence of military units in the area, although the crew never knew with certainty if the criminals had fled because they never left the safe compartment.

This is not the first time that the ‘Serviola’ frees a hijacked vessel during the present deployment in the Gulf of Guinea. Last April the Spanish OPV thwarted another pirate attack against a Nigerian-flagged vessel.


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