A tanker vessel MT Marine Express Panama-registered vessel was carrying approximately 13,500 tonnes of gasoline, an approximate value of cargo $8.1 million and a crew of 22 Indians has been lost at sea for over 48 hours off the coast of the West African country, Benin. The vessel, MT Marine Express, was on anchorage at 6.30 pm on January 31, at Cotonou, Benin. The next day, at 2.36 am, satellite tracking showed the ship missing from the anchorage in the Gulf of Guinea.
The crew was entirely Indian and managed by M/s Anglo Eastern Ship Management.The company’s Mumbai office has already communicated to the family members of the crew. The families are in a helpless position, as their only source of information at the moment is the company.
The Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) and the Ministry of Shipping in Delhi have already swung into action and have made requests to their counterparts in Nigeria and Benin to locate the missing vessel. B R Shekar, chief surveyor, who also holds the additional charge of director general at the DGS, confirmed the incident and said, “We have received the information and have already alerted all the required agencies, who are looking for the missing vessel.”
A senior official added, “The Nigerian Navy and Coast Guard carried out an aerial search at and around the location where the vessel was last anchored, but they have not been able to trace it so far. We are monitoring the situation and have to depend on our counterparts in Nigeria.”
Less than a month ago, on January 9, another vessel, MT Barret, had gone missing off the coast of Benin. Two days after its disappearance, it was confirmed that it been hijacked. The ship had a crew of 22, most of whom were Indians. They were released for ransom six days later.