The head of the Liberian Maritime Authority Mr. Binyan Kessely told the New Dawn in an interview Tuesday that the oil tanker MT Fair Artemis was reported missing while he was attending a Maritime meeting in the Ghanaian capital Accra.
Mr. Kessely said he immediately engaged the Ghanaian Minister of Transport and his Maritime counterpart over the incident and an immediate search was instituted.
He said the Ghanaian Maritime vessel monitoring and surveillance unit had reached out to track the vessel but it was reportedly not seen in Ghanaian waters as at the time of tracking.
Back home, he says the local maritime authority is working along with the vessel owners as well as the Liberia Shipping and Corporate Registry or LISCR to locate the vessel.
Meanwhile, Ghanaian and Nigerian armed forces were on Tuesday reported to be pursuing a search mission on Ghanaian territorial waters for the missing oil tanker carrying a Liberian flag.
Lt. Colonel Addo Quarshie of the Ghana Armed Forces confirmed media reports on state radio in Accra that a Liberian oil tanker was missing in the Ghanaian territorial waters but could not tell whether it was attacked by pirates.
The region is fast becoming a breeding ground for piracy owing to the booming oil industry along the coast. Xinhua news quoted the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) in Accra as saying that it has deployed the Navy to search missing oil tanker suspected hijacked off Ghana's coast over the weekend.
GAF Public Relations Officer, Colonel Mbawine Atintande told Xinhua in an interview that GAF was aware of the report of the missing oil tanker off Ghanaian territorial waters. "We are aware of the missing oil tanker and we have deployed our Navy to search for the missing vessel and report accordingly," Colonel Atintande said.
There were reports of suspected hijacking of the vessel by pirates. But Atintande said there's not sufficient evidence to support the claim. "We cannot confirm or deny the suspected hijacking of the vessel by pirates. Until we see the vessel, we cannot say there is suspected piracy or not," he said.
The Liberian-flagged oil tanker was reported over the weekend to have gone missing 36 nautical miles off the coast of Ghana. "We had a distress call from the master of the ship on Friday, saying he was 36 nautical miles away from our waters after he was hijacked and looted in Togolese waters early Wednesday," a senior official at Ghana's eastern port city of Tema said.
The Liberia-flagged MT Fair Artemis made its last contact with its manager, Fairdeal Group S.A., at 1800 hours GMT on Wednesday when it was operating off the coast of Ghana. The oil vessel was said to have failed to make contact with officials of the company on Thursday.