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Following a conspicuous silence, the Ministry of National Defense has confirmed the identity of the strange vessel that docked ashore here as a Panamanian Registered Nigerian Flagged Vessel named TAMAYA 1, which drifted on the shore of Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County in western Liberia on May 3, 2016.

Minister Dahn narrated that information gathered by the Liberian Coast Guard, and the Maritime Regional Monitoring Rescue Coordination (MRMRCC) quoted some fishermen as saying the vessel TAMAYA 1 was observed to be in distress within Sierra Leonean waters and drifted toward Liberia on 26 April 2016, but noted the MRMRCC did not release this information to the Liberian Coast Guard.

Addressing reporters Thursday at the regular press briefing of the Ministry of Information in Monrovia for the first time on the issue that has raised serious security concern among the public, the Assistant Defense boss explained that during a security search onboard the abandoned vessel, it was discovered to be an oil tanker, but so far no information has been established about the number of crew members as no crew was found onboard.

He said it was coast gaud personnel also gathered the vessel was gutted by fire, leaving the bridge upper, and control center completely burnt along with all documents. He added that search by the LCG additionally established that the vessel, which is listed on the starboard around, has its hatches opened, and contained a mixture of oil, and water, detailing the vessel was known to be carrying two raft boats but only one was observed during the search.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry has stressed that with the drawdown of UNMIL, security remains a collective effort of every citizen across the country, noting that the way citizens are responding to security issues here shows that Liberians would not sit and see strange things without bringing it to the public.

Assistant Minister Dahn: “We encourage your participation in every corner of our society, because this country belongs to every one of us.”He said though the media is interested in breaking the news, the security forces’ prime concern has always been to respond to any eventuality, but stressed the need for both to work together, including all citizens to safeguard the Motherland.

“We as a government are under obligation to provide explanation; we have to be very careful to avoid problems with the news; on May 9 the Ministry of Defense observed with keen interest, the national security concern which has germinated as a result of an abandoned vessel along the western shores of Liberia.”

Minister Dahn said, in keeping with the statutory mandate, the Liberian Coast Guard (LCG) immediately took siege of the security implication, and in concert with the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) both conducted a boarding and search operation on the vessel on May 5, 2016.

He assured the public that the LCG in concert with other security agencies is carrying on further investigation to unravel circumstances surrounding the abandoned oil tanker, and its subsequent drifting on the shores of Liberia.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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