One seafarer who was onboard the Jascon 4 anchor-handling tug remains unaccounted for but safety fears have put a stop to the search effort around the unit which has now sunk.
The tug capsized in heavy seas about 15 miles off Escravos, Delta state with 12 crew members onboard on Sunday as it was assisting a tanker.
Miraculously one sailor, the cook, was found alive inside the upturned vessel on Tuesday evening before it sank.
A statement on Friday from Nigerian vessel owner West African Ventures (WAV), which lists the tug in its fleet, confirmed that the bodies of 10 seafarers have been reocvered but that one was still missing.
“The search and rescue operation that has been underway since 26 May 2013 has had to be stopped for safety reasons,” it continued.
“The vessel… which is located some 30 metres under water in an upside down position, has become so unstable that the risk of injury to our rescue divers has become unacceptably high.”
WAV chief executive Jacques Roomans commented: “The families of all crew members have been informed of the outcome of the rescue operation and (WAV) will continue to give all support possible to the families of our deceased and missing colleagues. We extend our deepest sympathy to all of them.”
The company reported on Wednesday that vessel cook and nigerian national Okene Harrison was found alive inside the vessel. On Friday it said: “Mr Harrison has been brought to the surface safely and he continues to respond to treatment.”
A Chevron spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that a local unit of the US supermajor, Chevron Nigeria Limited, had hired the vessel.
“Initial reports indicated that heavy ocean swells caused the Jascon 4 to capsize while performing tension tow operations of the tanker at SBM 3,” the company added at the time.
The Jascon 4 is listed in the fleet of WAV. Shipping databases also link it with Walvis, also from Nigeria, as manager.
*Eoin O’Cinneide, Upstreamonline