Missing Merchant Ship Carrying 22 Indian Crew Members Released

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj thanked the governments of Nigeria and Benin for their support.


The Panama-registered merchant ship Marine Express that went missing with 22 Indian nationals on board off the Coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea was released on Feb.6.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had earlier taken to the social media to express concern about the missing oil tanker, said that the merchant ship has been released.

“I am happy to inform that Merchant Ship Marine Express with 22 Indian nationals on board has been released,” she said on Twitter.

Swaraj also thanked the governments of Nigeria and Benin for the support extended by them in the entire process.

The ship, owned by Mumbai-based firm, Anglo Eastern Ship Management, was carrying nearly 13,500 tonnes of gasoline. The company said that the ship was hijacked by pirates on Feb. 1.

It is now back under the command of the captain and crew. All crew members are reported to be safe and the cargo is intact, the company informed the family and well-wishers of the crew on the social media.

The last contact with the ship was made while it was at anchorage at Cotonou, a port city on the south coast of Benin in West Africa, according to tracking data. An official of the Mumbai-based Directorate General of Shipping had said earlier that the region has a history of piracy and it may be a case of suspected piracy. All communication with the vessel had been lost and no ransom call had been made. It is not clear whether a ransom was paid since no official information was released about it.

Swaraj had earlier spoken to Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama regarding the missing ship and was promised complete assistance in tracking the vessel.

The Marine Express was hijacked and released less than a month after a similar incident involving the ship MT Barrett. The product tanker was reported missing since Jan. 9 off Cotonou, Benin, in the Gulf of Guinea. It was reported that the ship was hijacked for cargo theft and the crew on board was reportedly abducted. The ship was released on Jan.18 and the crew was found safe.

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