Singapore tanker seized in Cameroon released

A Singapore-flagged oil tanker, which was reported to have been seized by private militiamen in Cameroon last week in an apparent commercial dispute, has been released.

In a statement yesterday, Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping confirmed that the vessel, named Barents Sea, departed the port of Limbe in Cameroon with all 26 crew members safe and unharmed as of Tuesday.

The vessel was seized by Cameroonian militiamen armed with AK-47 sub-machine guns at the Sonara Refinery in Limbe.

Eastern Pacific Shipping alleged at the time that Mr Jules Francois Famawa, the owner of local charterer DSC Marine, had "used illegitimate means to seize the vessel for the purpose of holding its owners to ransom in clear violation of Cameroonian and international law".

In its statement, the firm thanked the crew for their "unwavering strength, resilience and professionalism throughout the dreadful encounter".

It also thanked the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Navy, the various embassies representing the ship's crew - who include Indian, Chinese and Turkish nationals - and the Cameroonian authorities.

"DSC Marine's conduct and blatant disregard for local and international laws have proven to be futile. We sincerely hope that future disagreements can be resolved without resorting to hostile means," said Eastern Pacific Shipping.

The firm added that it remains "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 our crew".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore tanker seized in Cameroon released'. Subscribe