J. J. Ugland vessel crew released by pirates after 35 days in captivity

Bonita (Photo: J. J. Ugland)

J. J. Ugland has confirmed that the captain and eight other crewmembers of one of its cargo vessels who had been abducted by pirates have been released to Nigerian authorities after 35 days in captivity.

In a statement dated December 9, the Norwegian shipowner said that nine of the crew of the bulk carrier Bonita were brought ashore to southern Nigeria in the late evening (local time) of Friday, December 6.

The released crew, all Filipino nationals, then underwent medical examinations and were later declared fit to travel. All have since arrived in Manila to be reunited with their families and colleagues.

The crisis began on October 31 when Bonita was boarded by armed men while at anchor off Benin. The nine crew were taken off the vessel as it was waiting for clearance to berth at the Port of Cotonou to discharge its cargo of gypsum.

The remaining crew, who were also Filipinos, then notified local authorities about the incident. The vessel arrived alongside in Cotonou later that same day.

Law enforcement agencies in Benin participated in the subsequent investigation into the abduction as J. J. Ugland brought a new crew aboard the vessel.

The company had also permitted the crew who were not abducted to fly home to the Philippines to be reunited with their families.

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