16 Indian Sailors Detained For Over 80 Days In Equatorial Guinea Appeal For Help

New Delhi: Sixteen Indian sailors, who are part of a 26- member crew of MT Heroic Idun, an oil vessel, have been “illegally” detained by Equatorial Guinea since August 14, this year. The crew also includes eight Sri Lankans and a national each from Poland and the Philippines.


They have appealed for help to be released from “unlawful” detention, Hindustan Times reported.

According to a statement released by the sailors, the Norwegian-flagged MT Heroic Idun “was arrested by the Equatorial Guinea naval ship in international waters on 12th August 2022.”


The ship was “brought to Luba port in Equatorial Guinea under naval escort and threat of lethal action against the vessel and crew if orders are not complied (with) on 14th August 2022”, the statement said.


“We, the crew of MT Heroic Idun would like to request for help and assistance to get us released and be brought back to India from Equatorial Guinea where we have been held unlawfully since 14th August 2022. The vessel has a total crew of 26 persons, and out of that we have 16 Indians, 8 Sri Lankans, 1 Polish and 1 Filipino national onboard,” the statement added, according to the report.


The Heroic Idun ship was supposed to load cargo of crude oil in Nigeria’s AKPO terminal on August 8, but as per terminal instructions, the loading operation was delayed and the ship never made any operations in Nigeria. The crew however could not identify the craft as it was night and the craft did not have its Automatic Identification System switched on.  The crew was later told that this was not the normal course of action by the Nigerian Navy and that the vessel should not have followed any unauthorised orders. Even the AKPO terminal security could not positively identify the craft.

Fearing for the security of the crew, the ship sailed out of the location at full speed. The next day, on August 9, the crew was informed that the unidentified craft was indeed a Nigerian naval vessel. Three days later, the ship was arrested by an Equatorial Guinean naval vessel.

In a video released by the crew, they said that they have fully cooperated with all the investigations carried out by the Equatorial Guinean authorities. The members ashore were even interrogated by Nigerian officials thrice since their arrest. Nigerian officials also visited the ship at Luba to carry out their investigations.

On September 28, the crew ashore in Malabo were presented with a resolution stating the offences committed and the fine to be paid for the same. To facilitate an early release of the crew from captivity, the owners of the vessel paid the fine within a week and the same was confirmed as received by the Equatorial Guinean authorities, The Quint reported.

“Although we have not been mistreated or harassed in any way by the Equatorial Guinean authorities, and (we) appreciate the same, but since all investigations and payment of fine have been completed, we seek your help and assistance in facilitating our release. The crew members onboard the ship and the crew members held ashore are in an extremely critical mental condition and their physical health is also deteriorating rapidly,” the crew said in a letter released to the media.

Gaurav Arora, a resident of the Govind Nagar area in Kanpur, is among the 16 Indian crew. As per Gaurav’s family, he had recently joined the merchant navy as a third officer. He was on a Norway-based ship ‘MT Heroic Idun’ that reached AKPO Offshore – a conventional gas development located in ultra-deepwater in Nigeria on August 8 when he was held hostage along with other crew members of the ship, news agency ANI reported.

The family said that they are worried because the Guinean Navy is going to hand over the ship crew to Nigeria any movement.

“It’s a nerve-racking time for us. We are really worried about the safety of my brother and the 15 Indians of the ship crew,” Gaurav’s sister Komal Arora told ANI.

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