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MARITIME PIRACY | A tale of two seafarers

From Tradewinds, 2012.05.12

Two Indian crew have revealed gripping details of their four-month ordeal on board the Italian tanker hijacked off Somalia in December and freed last month.

The 16,600-dwt Marnavi-owned Enrico Ievoli (built 1999) was carrying 15,000 tons of caustic soda and 18 crew from Iran to Turkey when it was seized by gunmen.

The seven Indian crew members landed back home in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Roopendran Parrakat, 51, told the AP news agency he had been watching an unidentified boat since he had come on duty shortly before 6am on 27 December.

He and two other crew took turns peering through binoculars at the vessel, which showed up on the Enrica Ievoli’s radar as an ominous blip moving far too fast toward their ship.

“Normally, you get GPS data,” Parrakat said. “This vessel had no details, no name, nothing.”

Forty minutes later the captain sounded the alarm, jolting Shantilal Harji Solanki awake.

“I had a feeling pirates were around,” said Solanki, 52, who worked as a mechanic on the ship.

He stashed his gold prayer beads in an air conditioning duct before heading up to the ship’s bridge, the designated meeting point in case of emergency.

A skiff had set out from the pirate’s mother ship. The crew watched from the bridge as four men in shorts and T-shirts hoisted a ladder and climbed on board. Two carried AK-47s.

They fired shots in the air and called themselves pirates. They said they were from Somalia.

The men came up to the bridge and trained their guns on the captain. “They said this boat is hijacked,” recalled Solanki. One of the gunmen was shaking. Another man was bleeding, cut on the hand and shoulder by the barbed wire the crew had wrapped around the ship to stave off pirates before entering the dangerous waters.

Five more Somalis soon climbed on board. The youngest was 14, the oldest in his fifties.

“The leader told us we are hijacking this vessel for money,” said Parrakat. “We need this money for our country. We are doing this for our country.”

A helicopter flown in by the Turkish navy in response to the captain’s distress call arrived 20 minutes too late.

The crew were held the crew on the bridge. Half got mattresses, the rest slept on blankets. They had to ask permission to go to the bathroom or take a shower. Pirates always escorted them, one man at a time. Photographs were forbidden.

The pirates led the crew — seven Indians, six Italians and five Ukrainians — one by one to their cabins and took anything that could be sold.

They stole Solanki’s two laptop computers, one of which he’d just bought for his daughter, two cellphones, his watch, his leather shoes and all his money.

After a few days, the ship reached Somali waters and the men were allowed to call home.

Solanki called his wife in Diu, an island north of Mumbai, India’s financial capital. “I told my wife, ‘I am hijacked. Don’t worry, we are OK,'” he recalled.

His two daughters were sobbing too hard to speak clearly. “Papa come soon,” they said.

The crew did not become friends with their captors over the long months of captivity. They barely learned each other’s names. The pirates slept separately and ate their own meals. The Somalis brought sheep on board, slaughtering one each day for food.

The crew played cards, mostly gin rummy, to fill the empty hours. Some prayed.

No one thought of escape. “Everyone was afraid for his life,” said Parrakat.

“I can’t be faster than a bullet,” said Solanki.

Once the ship reached Somali waters, Maya’s group handed the vessel over to anther crew of pirates led by a man named Loyan.

Twice Enrica Ievoli was pressed into pirate service.

In January, the ship sailed two and a half days to rescue nine pirates from a failed hijacking.

Five of the nine were injured and one had been shot dead by the US navy, said Solanki. The pirates put the dead body in the freezer and sailed back to Somalia.

In March, Loyan ordered the ship to chase a hijacked Spanish vessel whose captain was not following pirate orders. They never found the ship.

On 22 April, more than 30 pirates, all armed, were aboard the Enrica Ievoli. They wrapped their faces in cloths, hiding everything but their eyes. They lined the crew up on the deck so they could be seen, alive, from a small white plane that approached in the afternoon.

The pirates kept their guns pointed at the backs of the crew as the plane circled above and then dropped three plastic containers, each fitted with a small parachute, into the sea.

The pirates scurried off the boat to collect their treasure.

Then a new kind of fear settled on the crew.

“Until that day, they had reason to keep us alive,” Parrakat said. “After they got what they wanted, they can do anything.” He stayed awake the whole night, listening as the pirates left the ship in small groups.

Around 5am, the last few pirates fired three farewell shots in the air.

“It was like coming out of jail,” Parrakat said, a big smile spreading on his face.

The captain called an Italian navy ship patrolling nearby. A helicopter circled as six Italian commandoes boarded the Enrica Ievoli and scoured the ship for any trace of pirates.

“When the Italian commandoes came, we felt OK, fine, we are going home,” Solanki said. He took his prayer beads out of the air conditioning duct.

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LIFE AT SEA: Phillipines ratifies ILO Convention 185

MANILA, Philippines — Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz announced the ratification by President Benigno S. Aquino III of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 185 or the Seafarers’ Identity Convention (Revised) 2003 which provides a uniform Seafarers’ Identity Document (SID) that ILO member-countries are required to issue to their seafarers.

“With the ratification of ILO Convention 185, the security of our seafarers and their continued employment is assured,” Baldoz said.

Baldoz said ILO C185 also spells out the requirements for ILO member-countries on how to establish processes and procedures for the issuance of SIDs.

All countries ratifying ILO Convention No. 185 will be required to issue new SIDs that conform to the requirements specified in ILO SID-0002, the standard which puts in place a comprehensive security system that enables the first global implementation of biometric identification technology on a mandatory basis, thus enabling positive identification of the seafarer that holds the document.

“The Philippines has done extensive work for the implementation of the ILO Convention 185 as preparation for its ratification. Because of this, Filipino seafarers will be able to move more easily around the world with this international document,” said Baldoz.

ILO Convention 185 revised the earlier Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, 1958 (No. 108). The much needed changes in the new Convention relates to the identification of seafarers.

Under ILO C185, the new SID carries a fingerprint-based biometric template, aside from the normal physical features for a modern machine-readable identity document, which was adopted with the agreement of the world’s ship owners and seafarer organizations. This new SID must conform to an international standard enabling the biometric templates on a SID issued by one country to be correctly read by devices used in other countries.

In addition, border authorities around the world will be able to check the authenticity of a SID produced by a seafarer, as the new Convention enables them to verify information in the SID either by reference to the national electronic database in which each issued SID must be stored, or through the national focal point of the country of issuance, which must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition, the SID country-issuing must arrange for an independent evaluation of the administration of its issuance system to be carried out at least once every five years. The evaluation report is reviewed within the framework of the ILO with a view to the maintenance of a list of the countries that fully meet the minimum requirements laid down by the Convention.

Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/347266/aquino-ratifies-ilo-convention-185

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Pirates and weather, hazards of the sea faced by seafarers

By Patrick Byrne | BBC News, East of England

On and off-shore of East Anglia’s ports hundreds of seafarers will not be able to spend Christmas with their families.

Many of the sailors have faced hardship in cramped quarters, perils of weather and the threat of pirate attacks.

Pirates prowl the waters off the coast of West Africa through which many English seafarers have come and gone.

Agencies will be working to support the sailors this Christmas including the Catholic Apostleship of the Sea, whose chaplain will be carrying out visits.

Sister Marian Davey, who is the chaplain for the East Coast ports, is among those who have helped deal with sailors who fled attacks by pirates off Somalia.

She said: “Sadly, we can no longer think of piracy as just part of maritime mythology or seafarers tales.

“It’s a reality for many seafarers on ships today.”

She said that earlier this year she spent some time with a crew in Felixstowe whose ship had been threatened by pirates.

Sister Davey added: “One pirate attempted to climb onboard, but fell off, as the captain manoeuvred the ship, causing him to lose his grip.

“Meanwhile a speedboat full of pirates with a lot of weapons was ready to fire at the ship. In this case, it ended well, as the ship was able to speed away out of reach of their guns.

“When the ship arrived in Felixstowe three weeks later quite a few of the Filipino crew were still recovering. But they said they had no choice but to get on with the next stage of the voyage to earn a living wage to support their families back home.”

Ports like Tilbury and Harwich in Essex, Felixstowe, Ipswich and Lowestoft in Suffolk, and Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn, in Norfolk, deal with the trading ships.

While much of England enjoys a festive holiday break, busy container ports like Tilbury, Harwich and Felixstowe will continue working over Christmas.

Lonely time

Crews represent a wide range of nations and hold an equally varied number of religious beliefs. However, most regard Christmas as a universal feast with its focus on the family.

But for seafarers Christmas can be a lonely time, hundreds or thousands of miles from their families.

For Sister Davey, it means visiting the various ports in her patch, taking some small gifts donated by local churches, including warm clothing.

She also provides seafarers with telephone top-ups so they can use the internet to contact their families back home.

Many of the Filipino seafarers gather onboard for a special meal on Christmas Eve.

“It’s a way of staying connected to the tradition where the whole family gathers to celebrate and give thanks,” Sister Davey said.

“I will try to join a few of these meals, but I am also busy responding to requests for taking seafarers to services or to celebrate a service onboard.”

She said the meal was usually followed by a karaoke carol session and often a visit from Santa.

The captain of a small barge with three Filipinos onboard has asked her to provide some small gifts and calendars for the crew when they arrive in Harwich a few days after Christmas.

“Many of the seafarers in the East Anglian ports are from Russia, Ukraine and Romania, so I visit ships in early January with some small snacks of Eastern European food for the crews to celebrate their Christmas on 6 January.”

Last month the Swanland, a cargo ship carrying rocks, sank 10 miles off the coast of Wales after a huge wave cracked its hull. One member of the Russian crew died and five are still missing.

Sister Davey had been on board the Swanland earlier this year. She had also driven some of the crew to the seafarers’ centre in the port, so that they could use the internet and phone their families back home.

“The crew was a little bit frosty at first, but this is common with Russian seafarers. When I gave them some news bulletins in Russian, they were very grateful,” she said.

Over Christmas Sr Davey will be praying for a safe passage through piracy waters for the seafarers as they make their return trips.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-16242216?print=true

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Seafarers and Shore Leave

The two are rarely seen in the same sentence anymore. And, (partly) because of it, the brain drain from the global mariner pool will continue unabated. But, there’s much more to the broken equation than that…

Joseph Keefe

The romance is gone. By 1986, it was all but missing from (my) equation of going to sea for a living. That said, and when I joined my first seagoing assignment in the steamy summer of 1980 at the tender age of 21, equipped only with an untested Third Mate’s license and a (clueless) outlook of total wonderment, you could still look forward to little bit of fun on the job at sea. I’m told that this is no longer the case. A MarPro reader recently caused me to take a second look at a recent GAO report that examined, among other things, “Risks Posed by Seafarers.” To say that the report is an eye-opener in terms of misguided priorities would not be overstating the case. As a minimum, it gives you a hint as to why someone might not want to go to sea in 2012. There is clearly more to it than that, however.

The Good Old Days (?)

My first ship was a government missile tracker based out of Port Canaveral, FL. For every day we spent at sea during that six-month tour, we spent another two at the dock; sometimes more. I had a lot of fun cruising around Cocoa Beach. In port, I even ended up with a local girlfriend. At sea, our primary task was to track and record data from various missile shots, usually coming from nuclear submarines. It was interesting, but not very difficult work. In our off time, it was even better.

Shipping out with RCA contract technicians has its advantages. Among them (and I am not making this up) was their ability to set up a two-station, on board television network that operated 24/7. And, if you wanted to relive the 1973 Sugar Bowl again (the ancient Second Mate – for example – had a ‘Bamafetish), all you had to do was dial them up and ask them to run it. They had dozens of those kinds of tapes and a movie library anyone would be envious of.

As it turned out, I just HAD to get off that ship. Convinced that I wasn’t learning anything and hungry to get on board those tankers (I’ve since had my head examined), I asked to be transferred. Before I did so, the senior AB on my watch took me aside and tried to talk me out of it. I think his advice went something like this: “Are you out of your mind?” Nevertheless, I knew everything back then and managed to get myself transferred to a 1940’s-era UNREP oiler named the USNS “MARIAS.” And it wasn’t too long afterwards that I found myself engaged in 12-hour underway replenishment sessions (that only seemed to occur at night for some strange reason) with seemingly half the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic fleet lined up in sequence for their turn at the pump. We made a lot of money in overtime and we earned every penny of it.

The MARIAS was a dirty, tired old relic that leaked steam from every orifice when underway and operating auxiliary machinery in UNREP mode. We got more than one nastygram from the fleet Admiral wondering why we couldn’t make 14 knots (12.5 was good for us) while simultaneously pumping JP-5 to the aircraft carrier on our port side and DFM to the destroyer on our starboard. I spent more than six months on board and when finally relieved, I was exhausted. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun. We did. Borrowing a line from Steely Dan, the trip we made to Rio de Janeiro is etched upon my mind. What happens in Rio stays in Rio. At least that’s what the Navy guys told me. I myself went ashore only to shop for Christmas presents.

Fast forward to 1982 and by this time, I really knew everything. I quit MSC when the holy grail of a real commercial shipping job finally became available and I eagerly jumped at the chance of sailing on a coastwise chemical carrier. Eventually – about 3.5 years later – they ended up scrapping my ship out from under me and that, as they often say, was that. In the meantime, I spent half of my life on coastwise voyages that could entail as many as eight docks in 11 days, discharging as many as 20 grades, followed by five days of tank cleaning on the way back to the loading berth. It was, in a word, miserable.

You didn’t get ashore all that often, and when you did, it was usually spent in line at the pay phone at the end of the jetty, waiting to call home. This was well before cellular telephones, Internet and anything else. Good entertainment on board was unheard of and you could only watch “Cool Hand Luke” so many times on that grainy-pictured, worn out television without going mad. Off watch, I read a lot of books, studied for my upcoming license exams and before going to bed, cherished that solo (secret) LITE beer at 0430 (following the mid watch) with the stateroom door securely locked and barricaded.

We had it better than most of today’s merchant mariners. The company’s shipping schedule of 75 days on and 75 days paid vacation was as good as most outfits (or unions, or that matter) were giving and, getting back to my original purpose for writing this eColumn, if you wanted to go ashore, it was rarely a problem. In a pre-9/11 world, gangway and terminal security in 1985 was, for the most part, nonexistent. I know that some folks will find it hard to believe, but in those days, you could walk down the gangway at Port Everglades and saunter into town without ever going through a gate or seeing a security guard. Today, that place is the Fort Knox of maritime security. I mean that as a compliment. On the other hand, I’ll bet the average tanker mate arriving there on a foreign registered vessel doesn’t have a prayer of getting ashore to buy a tube of toothpaste.

Combating the “threat” of seafarers

The GAO’s January 2011 report, entitled, “MARITIME SECURITY: Federal Agencies Have Taken Actions to Address Risks Posed by Seafarers, but Efforts Can Be Strengthened,” gives you a birds-eye view of why it is virtually impossible for the typical foreign seaman to get ashore at a U.S. port of call. And, why it may just get harder. As my reader told me pointedly, “For those who have seen firsthand the treatment accorded to seafarers, the question is WHY?” At face value, the answer is obvious and yet, the perceived risks have not yet panned out to a realistic picture of the actual situation. But a summary of some of the data within the report (based on data from FY-2009) is also worth looking at:

  • 55,560 vessel calls were made in the U.S. in fiscal year 2009 or about 8% of the global total;
  • Report acknowledges that number of seafarer arrivals in U.S. is small;
  • The report estimates that there are 1.2 and 2 million seafarers in the world;
  • 27 million passenger and crew arrived in the US via seaports in 2007;
  • 92 million passenger and crew arrived in the U.S. by air in 2007;
  • 300 million arrived in the U.S. via land border crossings;
  • Total seafarer arrivals in the U.S. amounted to just 5 million;
  • 80% of all seafarers arrived onboard passenger vessels;
  • 10 of the 132 ports of entry received 70% of all seafarers;
  • Top 3 ports where seafarers arrived were Miami (16%), Port Everglades (14%) and Port Canaveral (10%).

Presumably, the big concern is that seamen will arrive at our shores, depart the vessel, and never come back – or worse – do something terrible while they are ashore. So far, though, the numbers do not bear out those presumptions. Moreover, the approach being applied by U.S. authorities to make that happen does not make a whole lot of sense. According to the report, “…to date there have been no terrorist attacks involving seafarers on vessels transiting to U.S. ports and no definitive information to indicate that extremists have entered the United States as seafarer non-immigrant visa holders”. That same document goes on to add that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) does not have accurate records showing the number of deserters and absconders. Apparently, “CBP has reported continuing challenges with its seaport field units’ recording of absconder and deserter incidents in CBP database systems”. Swell.

An absconder is defined as a person detained on a vessel and who left the vessel without permission. A deserter is a crewman with a permit to land who did not depart on the vessel. The number of absconders and deserters (nationally) do not amount to much, but they are also worth looking at. And, arguably, CBP / U.S. Coast Guard efforts to make sure that the perceived “problem” does not grow are arguably yielding some fruit. In 2005, about 195 absconders were recorded and by 2009, that number had decreased to about 70. More than 1 million seafarers arrive at our shores annually.

The scrutiny is warranted because seafarers do visit critical parts of our industrial infrastructure, such as refineries, shopping centers and the ports themselves. My reader, however, rightfully points out that those who experienced and remember visiting ports behind the Iron Curtain also recall the armed guard posted at the foot of the gangway. In the U.S., however, the guards are posted not at the ship but at the entrance to the facility. While the facility is nominally being protected against the American public, the same cannot be said for terminal when it comes to the crew. Hence, the effort to keep mariners (er, potential terrorists) from coming ashore is admirable, but falls way short in actual practice.

My sources nevertheless tell me that there are “significant barriers facing a terrorist arriving on a ship and wanting to inflict some damage. He must first get permission from CBP to go ashore. That may not be as easy as it sounds, because CBP may or may not meet the ship on arrival and probably not in the middle of the night. Next, he needs to find someone to escort him in the terminal. If not, the facility will receive a penalty.” Beyond this, crews on cruise ships are only inspected every 90 days and yacht crewmembers also get preferential treatment, which leaves the question of why the heightened attention on cargo ship mariners is needed.

Well Beyond Shore Leave: the real picture…

Unspoken in all of this is the plight of the mariner who arrives on a VLCC offshore Galveston, lightering to five shuttle vessels offshore and then turns around to go back and load another 2 million barrels of Bonny Light Crude Oil at an offshore mooring buoy in the lovely environment of offshore Nigeria, where increasingly, he might be at risk of a pirate attack. That mariner might well go to sea for 6 months or more and never walk down the gangway even once. And, we haven’t even broached the concept of containerization and what that development has done to the world of commercial freight. Typical port calls are over in a heartbeat, and those that drag on a bit involve multiple roadblocks to those who might want to take off a few hours and visit the local shopping malls. The romance is gone; indeed.

Today, the focus of seafarer advocates naturally points towards shore leave issues and piracy. But there is more that impacts that metric; much of it has nothing to do with shipboard security and/or port security.  As industry ramps up to try and find ways to keep competent mariners where they belong – on board the ships – they’ll also need to concentrate on finding ways to keep them happy. And I’m not just talking about increased internet privileges and the ability to call home once in a while. Our MarPro reader rightfully puts the white hot spotlight on the low hanging fruit of shore leave issues here in the United States, but I would argue that the problem goes much, much deeper.

Decisions, Decisions…

The choice to go to sea in 2012, at least here in the United States is driven by many variables. Among them are the increasingly onerous regulatory burden (OPA-90, ISPS, ISM, STCW, etc.), the criminalization of mariners, shorter port calls, denied shore leave, piracy and increasingly longer seagoing assignments. That list is not all-inclusive but goes to well illustrate the reasons that many of our best and brightest no longer want to deal with the hassle. Certainly, it gives me pause to think that if the cook cuts his finger in the galley in a U.S. port, it is also likely that the Chief Mate (and everyone else) is going to have to urinate into a cup, despite being 700 feet away on the bow at the time of the accident.

Recently, we published in the 3Q print edition of Maritime Professional magazine (page 62) a graphic which showed that less than 50 percent of all U.S. state maritime academy graduates are choosing to obtain marine licenses as a function of their education. Still fewer opt to go to sea. And now, you know why.

Circling back to the early 1980’s and my experiences at sea, it was also true during that era that pay differentials between a seagoing career as a ship’s officer and that of the typical entry level yuppie were significant. I earned about $48,000 in about six months work in 1980 and considerably more in my first full year of employment that followed. It was a lot of money back then, especially for a 21-year old just out of college. My Houston-based roommate, also fresh out of college (Yale / BS Electrical Engineering), in contrast was earning just $22,000 working at Texas Instruments. It WAS worth it to go to sea, especially in a time that involved far less nonsense than today’s mariners have to endure.

That $75,000 annual salary for today’s newly minted third mates (so they tell me) buys far less than my $50,000 in 1980. Today’s American kids, though, have options. Overseas, that’s not so true. So, the foreign mariner – making up 99 percent of all global seafarers – may not be so fortunate. Notwithstanding the lingering poor economy, these folks might not have a choice.

I’m happy to highlight the plight of today’s mariner and the challenges facing them as they try to wring out a little joy out of what is – and always has been – a tough job in an even tougher industrial environment.  On the other hand, I don’t have any real answers for them. A reasonable attempt by the U.S. government to fix a broken system of shore leave privileges here in the United States is a good place to start. – MarPro.

* * *

Joseph Keefe is the lead commentator of MaritimeProfessional.com. Additionally, he is Editor of both Maritime Professional and MarineNews print magazines. He can be reached at jkeefe@maritimeprofessional.com or at Keefe@marinelink.com. MaritimeProfessional.com is the largest business networking site devoted to the marine industry. Each day thousands of industry professionals around the world log on to network, connect, and communicate.

Source: http://www.maritimeprofessional.com/Blogs/The-Final-Word-with-Joseph-Keefe/November-2011/Seafarers-and-Shore-Leave-.aspx

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Piracy at sea and the commerce behind it (Part 1)

The long term solution to piracy lies in the world reverting to ships flying with the flag of their own nationality, not flags of convenience 

Veeresh Malik

Maritime piracy has resumed in full force after a lull. And it mainly affects the Indian seafarer in captivity. One reason for this is the standoff between Indian government and pirates on the issue of some Somalians in Indian custody. The Somalians demand that their colleagues be released, while the law in India will take its own course. This has left Indian seafarers to rot in terrible conditions. The Kenyan invasion of South Somalia, ignored in the Indian media despite the ancient ties with the Horn of Africa, has just increased the risks. The Indian seafarers are likely to, once again, become pawns in the conflict.


From torture and beatings to starvation, as well as being denied access to any form of interaction with the authorities, Indian seafarers are in a miserable condition. They will risk their lives due to economic compulsions, and more, on voyages in waters, where Indians have traditionally sailed. Whether by conventional “dhows”, or on modern ocean liners, they are the new targets, and the pirates roam from the Horn of Africa to the furthest reaches of the Southern Indian Ocean. With attacks from submarines and drones now making no difference between friend and foe, stuck on ships, retaliation is expected. Western forces seek a higher involvement of the Indian Navy.
 
Matters have reached a point where the demanded ransom “rates” for Indians in Somalian captivity is the same demanded from Europeans. In some cases, release is denied outright. In addition, the previous rule of “no bloodshed” is now being openly flouted, as is evident from the killing of two European tourists and kidnapping of others from the Swahili resorts in Northern Kenya near Somalia. Near death-type of torture is also being reported.
 
The Indian crew left behind from the ASPHALT VENTURE have still not returned, despite ransom being paid. In the case of another European owned ship with Indian seafarers onboard, the ransom amount, after almost being settled, has gone up to three times what it was a few weeks ago. This is because the insurance company of the owner refuses to come to the table anymore – having lost interest in the ship and cargo. The attack on what is called “Jubaland”, at the Southern end of Somalia, by multi-national forces, is one reason.
 
In the midst of all this, the Indian government and private ship-management agencies have clamped down on all information. Even the families of those affected are kept in the dark. A possible reason for this could be that the real ship-owner, who is often hidden behind the forwarding address of a tax-haven seldom comes forward to help. This is because his K&R (Kidnap and Ransom) Insurance and other covers are adequate to pay for the vessel and cargo. Therefore, losing the asset is certainly profitable for the actual ship owner in a recessionary market. Consequently, the whole of the Indian Ocean has been declared a War Zone.
 
Brutally explained, companies find it more profitable to collect insurance on a hijacked ship. Humans on board are often seen as cheap collateral damage from the third world countries. The ship owner, or the charterer, frankly stands to gain if the hijacked ship just sinks quietly with all people on board. Therefore, only media coverage and bad publicity are a worry; hence families are asked to keep quiet by threatening to deny them their dues. They even keep the regulatory authorities, in this case the Directorate General of Shipping, quiet or as make them an accomplice.
 
This is why, at a workshop on piracy in the Indian Ocean, one had the amazing experience of seeing on stage a combination of NATO, British Royal Navy, EU Forces representative, Ship owners and an International Union Representative. With the Indian Government and the Indian Navy in the audience, the point that our friends from the countries, which control international shipping legislation globally were making, sounded like this:
 
1) The older pirates, of Captain Blackbeard and Johnny Depp variety, were romantic creatures. Switch to slide of good-looking lady-killer type smiling white guy from Pirates of the Caribbean with sword.

2) The modern-day Indian Ocean pirates, of African variety, are terrible terrorist creatures. Switch to slide of scarred big black guy, with huge teeth grimacing, while wearing Islamic head-dress with AK-47.

3) The true pirates, wearing fine bespoke suits in global banking centres, were simply business executives. This person did not get a slide, and chose to be hidden behind global free trade anonymity armed with impeccable Queen’s English.
 
Leading from this, we were told that it is very important for Indians to persuade the Indian Navy to provide more security to all vessels in the area, while keeping the European Navy free. This led to surprised grins from some Indians present at the workshop for following reasons:
 
1) If the Indian Navy did not step out and guard the Indian Ocean, then supermarket shelves in Europe would not be able to carry the same discounted prices (as generations of people who did not really work hard for a living had got used to).

2) The European powers are busy with Libya, and maybe Syria, Iran or others would need their ships for those theatrics, or maybe even an un-announced invasion of Somalia by the Kenyans.

3) Most of all, it costs a lot of money to keep the European and NATO naval ships working in the Indian Ocean even when the dirty work below the deck was done by cheap labour from third world countries.

(Note – it is not only “flag of convenience” merchant ships that employ cheap seafarers to work in subhuman conditions. This practice is now followed by warships from developed countries also.)

Source: http://maritimesecurity.asia/free-2/piracy-2/piracy-at-sea-and-the-commerce-behind-it-–part-1/

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Modern piracy: bloodless no more

Rose George writes about the escalation of pirate violence in the Indian Ocean and the possible consequences of the UK’s decision to allow armed private guards on board British-flagged ships.

Read more at http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/30/piracy-no-longer-bloodless?cat=commentisfree&type=article,

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MARITIME NEWS | ‘Seawind’ crew: end of the ordeal?

The Brazilian Attorney’s Office for Labour and Work will file an injuction to ensure that the crew members of  the Panama-flagged cargo ship Seawind, have their rights protected. According to the Chief Attorney Nicodemos Fabrício Maia, the injuction will also require that the 14 seafarers be allowed to return to Bulgaria, in accordance with ILO Conventions 166 and 178.

The Seawind and its cargo of granite were arrested on July 9 due to debts that reportedly amounted to US$ 560,000. SInce then, the ship has been anchored two nautical miles off the port of Mucuripe, in Fortaleza. The captain, Nicolay Simeonov, says that eight crew members had to be taken to shore as a result of health problems. He also declared that the food and water onboard are enough for only three more days, and that the ship is also running out of fuel.

Source (in Brazilian Portuguese): http://www.direitoce.com.br/noticias/51793/.html

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