Claims by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that MT NAVE ANDROMEDA did not apply for e-SEN (Electronic Ship Entry Notice) have been punctured by experts who think that NPA is merely playing to the gallery in order to cover up for its official negligence and incompetence.
British authorities had on Sunday raised alarm on the safety of MT NAVE ANDROMEDA with news report by British media that six Nigerian stowaways allegedly found onboard were suspected to have attempted hijack of the Liberian flagged oil tanker.
Reacting, the Nigerian Ports Authority denied the ship called any of its ports. Analysts say the denial is uncalled for and could embarrass Nigeria, more so since the denial apparently amplifies the authority’s laid back attitude and failure in its mandate over Nigerians territorial waters.
Western media also reported that Special Forces flew in to take control of the distressed ship following a signals from UK defense authorities. Whereas NPA hid under the umbrella of not been officially notified of the ship’s presence in Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was yet to issue a statement as at the time of going to press.
British Special Forces were reported to have gained control of NAVE ANDROMEDA Sunday evening, purportedly in response to a request for help from Hampshire police, no sooner the controversial vessel distress signal was picked up, leading to fears that the crew was no longer fully in charge of the ship.
Sky News quoted the UK Ministry of Defense as having declared the oil tanker and crew in possible danger. According to the news medium, “Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained. Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew is safe and well.”
The 228-metre tanker reportedly attracted attention on Sunday after failing to dock as expected in Southampton on the south coast of England at 10.30am GMT (6:30am ET) Sunday morning. The Sky News quoted marine traffic data as reporting that the tanker departed Lagos, Nigeria, on October 6.
Pinnacle Time findings indicate that the tanker carrying NNPC CARGO arrived Lagos on 18th September 2020 having departed Antwerp Port Belgium on 2nd September 2020. Top impeccable sources note that upon its arrival, the ship was escorted and guarded by personnel of the Nigerian Navy who remained with it throughout its ship-to-ship mid-stream operation at 15 mile location.
The NPA have tactically disputed MT NAVE ANDROMEDA that she was coming from Nigeria where the stowaways illegally boarded. Experts says it smacks of unethical behaviour for Nigeria to deny what amounts to obvious facts by clumsily putting up cooked defences instead of admitting its fault and apologizing for the embarrassing incident.
The authority had in reaction to media inquiry denied knowledge of the presence of NAVE ANDROMEDA in its ports; as though its sphere of inspection, monitoring and control ends at the ports. Experts say much of cargo transshipment takes place mid-stream without coming to harbour.
Engr. Adams Jatto, General Manager, Corporate Communication, NPA, said the authority have no record of the ship on its log book. Responding to inquiry made by industry news outfit, Maritime Insider, Jatto said, “We have investigated the vessel MT “Nave Andromeda. The vessel was not declared in any of the ports. The vessel did not apply for e-SEN (Electronic Ship Entry Notice) in the SEN offices of the Authority.
“The vessel did not report her arrival to NPA neither was the vessel attended to by NPA as the Authority was not informed so she did not berth in any of the Ports”.
Ports operation and maritime security experts opine that ships carrying out midstream operation do not require SEN. Contacted, the CEO South Side lnternational Resources Ltd, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, also confirming above, and reasoned that the stowaways may have accessed the tanker vide daughter vessels in the course of sts operation.
Responding to inquiry if cargo ships engage in mid-stream discharge are are not bliged to log into SEN, he said, “Yes, it is the case with all VLVs doing sts operations, they don’t require SEN. My deduction is that the stowaways used daughter vessels to board the mother vessel MT NAVE ANDROMEDA.
“It is illegal to enter a port state without ship notice of entry, unless for all it takes, such ship entered to take momentary refuge.”
For safety of vessels and crew during sts operation, it is mandatory for NPA to inform the port state which is Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for all midstream operations; not just in fulfillment of international best practice, but as a mandatory requirement for safety purposes. Experts posit that In the event of explosion for instance, the response falls squarely on NIMASA, and thus negligence of this level have far reaching consequences should we be talking about something much more dangerous than issues of stowaways.
Besides, failure of NPA to have the tanker under its chart and radar have undoubtedly robbed Nigeria of the 3% NIMASA Surcharge, apart from other revenue loses accruing from Cabotage fee from daughter vessels taking the cargo to terminals from mid-stream.
Speaking further on the development, Captain Warredi said stowaways are usually treated with respect onboard pending when they are handed over to the relevant authorities. He explained that proven acts of maltreatment of stowaways could earn a ship captain sanctions.
His words: “From my experience at sea, even a stowaway has rights when discovered. You have to feed them, you can give them limited work for safety reasons, You have to declare them to the authorities, You are not allowed to treat them as Prisoners or criminals any evidence of such treatment can result in the ship and or Captain being detained.
“By law, a stowaway becomes part of your crew. You have to respect and treat him humanely until you hand him over to the authorities. You can only lock him up after consulting the authorities and there’s an instruction to do so”.
Also speaking on the matter, an industry minder who does not want his name mentioned said stowaways have rights and privileges.
According to him, “by law, a stowaway is like a statutory tenant while he is on the vessel. A statutory tenant is one whose tenancy expired but had all the rights and privileges of a normal tenant and protections of the law.
“The only difference is that the stowaway got onboard illegally. He has the right to be treated humanely, with the dignity and respects accorded the crew of the ship.”
Similarly, a marine police officer who declined to also have his name mentioned because he was not authorized to speak said “if the position of the Nigerian Ports Authority regarding the oil tanker is anything to go with, one can say the tanker is one of those that engage in illegal and criminal activities on our waters.
“Now that the tanker has attracted global attention, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) needs to step in and carry out its own investigation. There is need to establish the truth of what happened. If NIMASA report also indicates that the tanker was not captured in its books, the whole development can be embarrassing.”
NAVE ANDROMEDA is managed by Inchcape and owned by Greek operator, Navios Maritime Holdings. The vessel was reported to have made two stops on its voyage, anchoring off the Canary Islands and off the French coast just south of Saint-Nazaire in Brittany.