The bunkering tanker EL HIBLU 1 hijacked by migrants off the coast of Libya was forced to enter Valletta harbour after the Special Operations Unit stormed the vessel and detained the ringleaders in a dramatic rescue operation.
The tanker was bound for Libya from Turkey when she diverted from her route to rescue 108 illegal migrants but three of them hijacked the ship when it became clear she planned to take them back to Libya.
The Maltese authorities established contact with the captain of the tanker ELHIBLU 1 when she was around 30 nautical miles away and proceeding towards Malta. The captain repeatedly said he was not in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta of which AFM Inshore Patrol Craft P 21 stopped the tanker from entering Maltese territorial waters with a special operations team (SOU) deploying on board to secure the vessel around 0300 hrs on Thursday 28th March.
She was backed up by Protector Class OPV P 51 –
Together with the Boomeranger Class Fast Interceptor Craft P 02 –
P 03 –
Together with Agusta Westand AW139 helicopter – AS 1428 –
Later on at the tanker made her approach to enter Valletta, Malta escorted by both naval and air units and berthed at Boiler wharf where several Police Vehicles including Transport Coaches were awaiting apart from ambulances.
Photos by Anthony Vella and Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com