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My Armageddon – Portion I

August 31, 2012

US-Mid-Atlantic Banks

My Armageddon – Component I

Report by RibOne

Prologue

My newest adventure, or must I say mis-adventure, involved rib patrol boats and gunboats mixed in a heady concoction of deceit, death, corruption and desolation. It truly is a story that is nonetheless going all around and all around in my head, and hopefully by setting out my ideas it will support me come to terms with what should be my encounter of a lifetime.

It all started out out, as I guess a lot of of these items do, by a telephone contact with the supply of some offshore oil help function operating some 35-40 miles offshore in the Gulf of Guinea. A planned one month stint for the duration of our winter months, in the warmth of Africa away from the cold and damp of blighty, and some great remuneration to boot!

Minor was I to know that I was to turn out to be witness to the reality of existence in the 3rd world, amongst the haves and the have nots in what was in truth a division among existence and death. As my story unfolds you will hear about a culture of deceit and corruption at the highest levels in government and military, why every and every single white European carries a bounty of $ 2m on his head and the motives why a militant organisation claims justification for piracy and murder.

Black gold, the oil that the west has an insatiable need for, is the catalyst for a dreadfully greedy and violent part of Africa, Nigeria.

DAY BY DAY

Day 1. Tuesday 11th March

An fascinating and early begin to catch my flight from Manchester to Heathrow, just before catching the day-to-day BA flight to Lagos. I was met at the airport by a representative from my new employer, a Uk Security Consultancy employing some 80 personnel. The occupation was to be the captain of an ex MOD Spitfire Class 24m, RTTL (Rescue and Target Towing Launch). It was one of two vessels recently acquired by the business with yet another two on the way. These vessels had been previously utilized by the RAF &amp Royal Navy for target towing in assistance of military workouts.

This was a excellent possibility for me to gain valuable experience in a vessel somewhat larger than the 11m Humber Rib, which I worked on the wind farm at Burbo Bank, and the survey vessels in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

I arrived early evening in Lagos, to be met by the company’s shore primarily based project manager and driven to the Lagos Motorboat Club. Lagos, a city created for three million inhabitants but which supports eight million, was vastly overcrowded with poverty about every single corner. The city is the economic and economic capital of Nigeria and the second most populous in Africa following Cairo. It’s a massive metropolis which originated on islands separated by creeks that fringe the southwest mouth of Lagos Lagoon, protected from the Atlantic Ocean by extended sand spits.

From the Motorboat Club I was ferried out to Apapa Island to rendezvous with the boat, meet up with the crew, have a handful of beers and a BBQ in the + 30c heat, at what was now 9:30pm.

Day 2. Wednesday 12th March

Day break and familiarisation with the boat was carried out by the chief engineer, an ex South African Navy engineering officer. Then a briefing from the two business liaison officers on board, once more South African, both from a protection background. My very first mate was Nigerian as was our assistant engineer, also our chief cook and bottle washer was a Nigerian. A total firm complement of 7 persons, comprising three Nigerians, 3 South Africans and me, the only Brit!

Background

Offshore and onshore oil installations are heavily guarded by protection organisations, due to the aggressive militant operations carried out by MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta). These militants have been engaging the military in normal battles in the creeks of the Bonny River given that the Nigerian government decided to heighten operations in the region to halt increasing instances of kidnapping of foreign oil workers, who carry a $ 2m bounty on their heads, and the murder of fellow Nigerians observed to be co-operating with the oil organizations, as they have no worth.

Nigeria relies on oil and gasoline exports for far more than 90 per cent of its yearly foreign earnings, but has been collecting dwindling revenue because of the destruction of oil manufacturing amenities and its infrastructure by the activities of the militants in the region which is currently at an all time high.

The Strategy

Our task was to patrol an offshore oil installation in the Gulf of Guinea. Prior to this we were to rendezvous with the Nigerian Navy. Our sail plan concerned leaving Lagos taking an offshore passage via the Bights of Benin and Biafra across the Gulf of Guinea, some one and a half days motoring (350nm) to arrive at Port Harcourt.

Our rendezvous point was the onshore LNG (Liquefied All-natural Fuel) Plant terminal on Bonny Island. At this area our vessel was to be fitted out with four 12.7mm heavy calibre machine guns, two on the fly bridge with the 2nd two astern, some light machine guns and a detachment of eight Nigerian marines with personal weapons, prior to proceeding to take up station offshore.

The Day’s Occasions

We had a Lagos pilot booked for 5pm so we took the possibility to do last provisions and a fuel best up in the course of the day. Our 24m patrol vessel was powered by twin 1,000hp engines. At 4pm, eight Nigerian Navy marines arrived and boarded as our guards throughout the passage. For protection factors the vessel was flying the Nigerian flag.

At 5pm with no sign of the pilot we cast off to wait in the middle channel for the pilot, which was not unusual. The harbour entrance was very formidable with watercraft dashing right here, there and everywhere. A hundred ships have been also at anchor just outside the harbour entrance.

I was quite pleased to see the pilot cutter arrive and I welcomed aboard the pilot. After the formalities and documentation stamping and so on. I asked to set the throttles forward to commence our passage. The pilot was immediately alarmed and requested our vessel to quit so that he could get off!

It grew to become obvious that his job was only the paperwork and that we had to take ourselves out of the harbour and by way of the buoyage system to the fairway. On disembarking the pilot turned to me and pointedly asked did I have anything at all for him! He got quick shrift from me, on this, my very first introduction to the pre-requisite ‘backhander’.

At 6pm we effectively cleared the fairway buoy.

Day 3. Thursday 13th March

Steady motoring at eight knots in a pleasantly rolling (no big waves) F2 all the way. We knowledgeable some little delay due to the prevailing Guinea current across the Bight of Biafra on our way to Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State (the oil capital of Nigeria).

Day 4. Friday 14 March

Arrived at the entrance to the Bonny River channel just immediately after noon, 12:15pm. The Nigerian marine’s lieutenant was rapidly on his mobile cellphone to the neighborhood naval base to confirm our arrival and to take instructions on our meeting stage. The Lagos marines have been due to disembark and fly back to their house base in Lagos, their work done.

For some unapparent reason the guns could not be transported to the LNG jetty. We should carry on to the jetty and wait for two patrol boats (gunboats) from the Nigerian Marines NNS Pathfinder group who would escort us to the Naval Base where the armaments would be fitted and the replacement detachment of Marines would board. As a civilian crew we had been reliant on the Marines to take care of all weaponry onboard.

A single of the patrol boats, an eight-9m RIB, with 5 crew met us in mid channel to lead us to the jetty in which the other patrol boat was refuelling. It was then made a decision that we would carry on up the Bonny River led by the very first patrol boat with the 2nd boat following up when entirely refuelled.

It wasn’t lengthy before we were joined by the second patrol boat as we continued up the Bonny River, part of the Niger Delta. We had been now well off our charts but with one patrol boat back and one particular front we pressed forward up river passing creeks at each twist and turn of this inhospitable river. Ship wrecks strewn the river bank which additional to our sense of foreboding, but had been in the hands of the Nigerian Navy so we must be alright!

Expecting to come upon a navy base at anytime it transpired that we had to go some 35 miles inland, via jungle waterways as effectively as open waters. At one stage I had to pass the helm above to my Nigerian quantity two although the white faced crew had to sit below the parapet simply because of the presence of militant hot spots. Some 6hrs later on as nightfall befell us at 7pm we have been rafted inside the navy base.

The base commander and an intelligence officer came aboard for 2hrs of questioning. The Lagos marines remained onboard and we all sooner or later bedded down for the evening.

Day five. Saturday 15th March

It was nevertheless anticipated that the armaments would be fitted at the navy base and the Lagos marines dismissed in order to catch their flight back to their property base. Nonetheless a second intelligence officer returned and asked the exact same set of inquiries that have been asked of us from the evening before. As our earlier solutions had been nevertheless connected to this most current question list it was just a matter of copying out our yesterday answers. What was that all about? Info was very lacking and in the finish nothing at all happened.

Day 6. Sunday 16th March

Standoff. Still nothing happened.

Day 7. Monday 17th March

St Patrick’s day and not a Guinness in sight! Not that this was of any consequence, becoming teetotal. The Lagos marines have been getting to be fairly agitated and angry as they should have been flown house the previous Saturday. Their guard duties became non existent, sleeping most of the time. From this time on we set-up our very own 4hr bridge evening watches.

Day 8. Tuesday 18th March

Two organization representatives arrived from Lagos, although not employed by our business they had some association with our operation. One an ex Nigerian Army Officer and the other an ex Nigerian Police Chief. They met with the base commander, returned to Lagos, and still absolutely nothing occurred.

Day 9. Wednesday 19th March

By this time we have been beneath the distinct impression we had been currently being detained. Even if we could consider our vessel out of the navy base how would we navigate the river, miss the militants and go the place? At ideal we would probably become one particular of the numerous ‘hulks’ rotting away on the bottom of the Bonny River.

Our days had passed waiting for something to take place, some news or some course. We watched interestedly as each evening we saw the patrol boats refuel in a most fundamental way. Fifty gallon drums of gasoline have been casually rolled down and pushed about the quay, a plastic pipe inserted and ‘sucked’ by a marine to draw up the fuel, and then passed in excess of the deck to the fuel tank fillers. The air was rank with vapour and the bilges possibly sloshed about with gasoline. Right now 1 of the far more friendly patrol boat skippers told us, “what ever you do don’t sail this boat out!” as a indicates of currently being valuable, I guess.

My Armageddon – Portion II

On its way!

About the Author

The writer is the editor and publisher of an online power boat magazine for sports activities and professional customers of rigid hull inflatable boats, RIBs. www.hotribs.com

Use and distribution of this report is topic to our Publisher Recommendations
whereby the original author’s data and copyright should be incorporated.

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The author is the editor and publisher of an online electrical power boat magazine for sports and skilled users of rigid hull inflatable boats, RIBs. www.hotribs.com

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