Liberia: Another ‘Not Sea Worthy’ Vessel Detained at Freeport of Monrovia


MONROVIA – Investigation into how detained Niko Ivanka left the Freeport of Monrovia with passengers and its sinking is yet to be concluded, yet another detained ship, JTK-01, which was ready to sail to the Southeast has been impounded at the Freeport of Monrovia for violations of national and international safety standards.

FrontPageAfrica gathered that the vessel was intercepted by the Coast Guard of the Armed Forces of Liberia who boarded and put a stop to its sail.

The vessel is currently detained at the Freeport of Monrovia by the Liberia Maritime Authority. FrontPageAfrica further gathered that the ship was about to sail with several passengers on board.

A notice of detention seen by FrontPageAfrica reads: “You are hereby notified that the above vessel is detained with immediate effect by the Liberia Maritime Authority in accordance with the provisions of the Liberia Maritime Laws and regulations appertaining thereto for violations of national and international safety standards.

“Accordingly, the vessel is not allowed to sail without undergoing a detailed safety inspection to ascertain its seaworthiness. The vessel can only be permitted to sail from the detained berth subject to a written authorization from us.”

JTK-01 was detained on Friday, July 23, 2021. FrontPageAfrica gathered that it was found not-worthy to sail and remains detained at the Freeport.

Sources familiar with the operations of JTK-01 said the ship had previously requested the LiMA for permit to sail with about 6,000 metric tons of palm kernel to Sierra Leone and Guinea but was denied as a non-conventional vessel which does not conform to the instruments of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  

The IMO’s framework of Port State Control regime is aimed at eradicating substandard ships as an avenue of promoting marine safety and for protection of the marine environment.

Update on Niko Ivanka

In a related development, the Liberia Maritime Authority on July 17 appointed Rishi Mehrotra, a certified marine investigator to investigate the circumstances leading to the sinking of Niko Ivanka on July 17, 2021.

Liberian-built and registered ship for the transportation of cargo between Harper, Maryland County and the Freeport of Monrovia signal was last seen offshore between Marshall and Little Bassa.

The cargo ship sent out a distress call prompting the rescue team from the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Liberia Maritime Authority and Sea Shepperd.

It was carrying about 26 passengers, including nine workers of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) when it was reported distressed.

Eleven people were rescued from the sinking vessel, while about 15 people remained missing. An initial four bodies were discovered at several locations including Grand Cape County.

This week, LiMA disclosed that it discovered seven other bodies that have been deposited at the St. Moses Mortuary. The seven include five staff of the WAEC who were Maryland County bound with test materials to administer examination; a crew member and a suspected passenger.

On April 22, 2021 the vessel was cited for being in violation of a detention order issued by the inspectorate department.

Six days later, on April 28, 2021, the vessel was detained for operating with expired certificates. That detention notice was served on the National Port Authority, Liberian National Coast Guard, the Management of the vessel, with all three bodies notified that the vessel was not fit to go to sea.

Though it remains unclear who order the sailing of the vessel which was previously barred by the government from sailing, a probe has been launched into the matter by the government, through the Liberia National Police (LNP).

But it remains unclear how the vessel left from Monrovia on July 17, 2021 at 0600hrs and was reported to be in a “distressed situation” though there are reports that the vessel has been sailing for several months despite the ban.

Addressing a news conference at the Coast Guard Base on the Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia, the Commissioner-General of the LiMA, Mr. Eugene Nagbe, disclosed that the investigation will help unearth how did the “detention order” on the sinking vessel was lifted and by whom.

“The Liberia Maritime Authority wishes to state that the subject vessel was detained and not allowed to sail. Also, the vessel was at no time authorized or permitted to carry passengers or operate as a passenger’s vessel”.

“The Maritime Authority and all of the relevant entities, including the Ministry of Justice, are commissioning an investigation to how a vessel that was detained because of its failure to meet the necessary requirements managed to get on the sea with passengers and cargo. We issued a letter and said don’t move; how did it move? We will determine that very shortly.”