Vessel Flagged in Singapore Released From Cameroon Seize
Barentes Sea, a Singapore-flagged oil tanker seized by private militiamen in Cameron last week, was confirmed to have departed the port of Limbe with its 26 unharmed crew members on Tuesday. The vessels release was reported by the Singapore-based firm Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) in a statement on Wednesday. EPS' statement assured that the vessel and its crew were released unharmed and the firm calls for government actions over the incident.
Last week, the vessel was seized by Cameroonian private armed militiamen at the Sonara Refinery in Limbe. The Eastern Pacific Shipping claimed that the owner of local charterer DSC Marine, Mr. Jules François Famawa, illegally seized the vessel for the purpose of pressuring the owners to ransom in clear violation of Cameroonian and international law. According to reports, the Aframax tanker was seized by militia armed with AK-47 and submachine guns. EPS said that they condemn the act of unprovoked aggression and they strongly urge the Cameroonian government to enforce its security forces to safety and immediately release the vessel and its crew on board in accordance with international law. The ship's crew included nationals from India, Ukraine, China, Philippines, and Turkey. EPS said that their top priority during the negotiations is the safe release of its crew.
The firm thanked the vessels crew for their unwavering strength, resilience, and professionalism throughout the dreadful encounter. It also thanked the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Singapore's Navy, the various embassies representing the ship's crew including the Indian, Chinese and Turkish Nationals, and the Cameroonian authorities.
The statement said that DSC Marine's conduct and blatant disregard for local and international laws have proven to be futile. It also said that that they are sincerely hoping that future disagreements can be resolved without resorting to hostile means. The firm assured that they will remain committed to holding the highest management standards in the maritime industry by complying with all applicable local and international rules and regulations with a priority on the health, safety, and security of their crew.
Reports from local media said that Cameroon's only crude oil refinery was shut down since late January because of lack of crude oil. According to reports, the vessel arrived in Cameroon on Dec 20. A Cameroon military official said in an interview with Xinhua said that the seized vessel was restrained on the Coast since the middle of December due to a financial dispute.