US Navy Capt Heidi Agle had been directing a training exercise against piracy with maritime agencies of Ghana when the hijacking a real-life lesson
It was supposed to be a US-led naval educate maneuver off the coast of west Africa when real-life drama intervened, with pirates taking over an oil tanker and turning the workout into a rescue mission.
Navies from the United States, Ghana, Togo and Nigeria tracked the hijacked tanker through waters off five countries before Nigerian naval forces stormed aboard on 20 February amid a shootout that killed one of the pirates.
It was the first big success in international maritime cooperation in the pirate-ridden Gulf of Guinea, the commodore in charge of US operations in Africa and Europe told the Associated Press.
Capt Heidi Agle, the commodore, had been directing a educate exercise against piracy with maritime the organizations of Ghana when the hijack a real-life lesson, she said in a telephone interview on Friday from her base in Italy.
First word came from the French embassy, which sent information to Agles USNS Spearhead via Ghanaian officials and US envoys of a possible pirate ship loitering off Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
There, pirates seized the Dubai-owned MT Maximus, on rental to a South Korean company and carrying 4,700 tons of diesel fuel, on 11 February.
The Spearhead tracked down the hijacked Maximus, identified it and then monitored its progress for two days as it sailed from Ivorian waters into Ghanaian territory. Then Agle handed over to Ghanas navy, which continued to shadow the ship until it entered the waters of Togo, when that countrys navy took over.
As the pirates steamed across the gulf towards the tiny island nation of So Tom and Principe, officials there contacted the Nigerian government for help.
The tanker had sailed nearly 800 miles( 1,280 km) before the Nigerians stimulated the assault.
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