A vessel in transit off the Niger Delta was attacked by two skiffs. After a chase and a sustained attack with automatic weapons some of the gang gained access to the vessel and stormed the bridge. Four crew were taken off the vessel and put into the skiffs. The gang were then presented with another opportunistic target and attacked. The four crew members found themselves cowering under a tarpaulin on the skiffs as more machine gun fire rang out around them. They were thankful that vessels in Nigerian waters do not generally have an armed team on board otherwise they would have undoubtedly been caught in the cross fire.
After ten hours in the skiffs the crew were taken to a jungle camp where they stayed for a further three weeks as we assisted owners and their underwriters in negotiating their release. This involved a number of working parts. It required careful liaison with the Nigerian State and Regional law enforcement agencies including the security service instructing local lawyers to put in place a safety net in case things went wrong. Getting funds into the Nigerian banking system and withdrawing what was needed for the delivery team, involves a significant amount of scrutiny and compliance. Briefing the Delivery Team and monitoring its progress into the Niger Delta comes with its own unique problems. We worked with the underwriters risk consultancy who were tasked with evacuating the crew after release and ensuring they were processed and examined thoroughly at the local hospital. All the men returned safely to their home towns and we hope will recover fully.
We have a tried and tested solution to kidnappings such as these and our team has considerable experience in operating in such high stress situations providing guidance throughout the process to owners, underwriters and importantly the hostages families.