The motor tanker Heroic Idun has been released on Saturday 27 May 2023 with the consent of the court and approval of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), as Nigerian Navy reports.
The information given was also confirmed by Marine Insurer Gard who says that VLCC vessel and its 25 crew have been released. As it is reported by Gard the vessel has departed Bonny, Nigeria and has now left Nigerian waters.
The Nigerian Navy issued a press release in the social media confirming the release of the motor tanker Heroic Idun “having fulfilled all the conditions of the plea bargain to the satisfaction of the Federal High Court.”
However, Marine Insurer Gard says the vessel had no other option than to accept a charge and to agree to make significant payments as well as other concessions as part of a plea bargain dated 27 April 2023.
“The Heroic Idun was detained on 12 August 2022, and both vessel and crew have been held ever since – first in Equatorial Guinea and then in Nigeria. Regrettably, in order to secure the liberty and well-being of the crew and to end the prolonged and wrongful detention, the vessel had no other option than to accept a charge and to agree to make significant payments as well as other concessions as part of a plea bargain dated 27 April 2023,” says Gard.
Gard’s Chief Claims Officer, Christen Guddal mentions that both the plea bargain and the court orders dated 28 April 2023 and 9 May 2023 make it clear that all charges against the 26 crew have been withdrawn.
«We extend our deepest gratitude to all parties who have worked with this very challenging case and who have assisted and facilitated the release of the crew. Going forward, we hope there are lessons to be learned from all of this, so that seafarers don’t have to find themselves in such terrifying and demanding circumstances again,» said Guddal.
Making a quick reference to the incident is worth saying that in August 2022 the Naval headquarters briefed the press on the arrest of the vessel by the Equatorial Guinean Navy, mentioning that the very large crude carrier had entered the Nigerian Maritime Environment on 7 August 2022 and it was headed for Akpo Field without any form of authorisation or clearance.
This accusation was denied by the ships owners who said that the Heroic Idun was authorised to load at Akpo oil field in the Niger Delta, as mentioned by the International Transport Workers´ Federation statement on 23rd of November 2022.
At that time the Nigerian Navy also said that the vessel’s Captain having duly responded to Nigerian Navy Ship Gongola later failed to comply with the Navy ship’s order to proceed to Bonny Anchorage to await her NNPCL papers, but rather altered her course southward and proceeded at top speed towards the Nigeria/Sao Tome Joint Development Zone. Heroic idun also reported her encounter with NNS Gongola to the International Maritime Bureau as a pirate attack, but this was later refuted by IMB because it was not.
“Heroic Idun was tracked by the Nigerian Navy’s state of the art Maritime Domain Awareness system and the ship was eventually arrested by the Equatorial Guinean authorities based a formal request by the Nigerian Navy under the Yaoundé code of conduct. The vessel was afterwards transferred back to Nigeria on 12 November 2022,” the Navy added.