The M/T “Heroic Idun” Case (Marshall Islands v. Equatorial Guinea), Prompt Release

On 10 November 2022, the Marshall Islands submitted an application, under article 292 of the Convention, for the prompt release of the motor tanker Heroic Idun, a crude carrier flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, and of its 26 crew members.

According to the application, on 12 August 2022, while the Heroic Idun was in the exclusive economic zone of Sao Tome and Principe, it was approached by the Equatorial Guinean Navy vessel Capitan David and was asked to stop its engine. The Heroic Idun was instructed to follow the Capitan David to Malabo, where it was subsequently directed to the Luba anchorage, along the coast of Bioko Island, and detained there. It was stated in the application that the master and 14 crew members were disembarked and taken to a government-owned facility, while the remaining 11 crew members were detained on the vessel.

Pursuant to article 112, paragraph 3, of the Rules, the President of the Tribunal issued an order on 11 November 2022, fixing 24 November 2022 as the date for the opening of the public hearing.

By letter dated 14 November 2022, the agent of the Marshall Islands informed the Tribunal about recent developments concerning the Heroic Idun and its crew, stating: “Equatorial Guinea caused the vessel and her crew to be transferred into the jurisdiction, control and custody of Nigeria on 11 November 2022”. The agent further stated that “these developments have regrettably rendered moot the Marshall Islands prompt release application” and that, “as a result, the Marshall Islands is compelled to discontinue the proceedings”.

In the letter, the agent requested the Tribunal to “take this correspondence as a formal notification of discontinuance of the proceedings in question under article 106 (1) of the Rules of the Tribunal”. At the time at which this letter was filed, the Government of Equatorial Guinea had not taken any steps in the proceedings.

In accordance with article 106, paragraph 1, of the Rules, the President of the Tribunal issued an order on 15 November 2022, placing on record the discontinuance of the proceedings initiated on 10 November 2022 by the Marshall Islands against Equatorial Guinea and ordering the removal of the case from the list of cases.