Tag Archives: seafarers

Spain to Try Bulgarian Sailors Busted on Cocaine-Loaded Ship

Despite Bulgaria’s hopes for a domestic trial, it will be Spain that will be trying 21 Bulgarian sailors on drug trafficking charges, after last week the Spanish authorities captured the Bulgarian ship St. Nikolay with 3 metric tons of cocaine on board.

“The Bulgarian sailors from the St. Nikolay ship must be tried in Spain,” Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters Thursday night upon meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Tsvetan Tsvetanov in Madrid, the bTV channel reported.

Tsvetanov, who went to Spain specially for the cocaine ship affair together with Commissar Stanimir Florov, head of the Bulgarian anti-mafia unit GDBOP, in turn declared that the sailors must receive a “fair trial”, no matter where it would take place, and that “those responsible must bear their punishment, even if it is the harshest one.”

According to the Bulgarian Interior Minister, the crew of the Bulgarian vessel must first “help themselves” before they can expect assistance from anybody else by cooperating with the investigation.

At the same time, the Spanish authorities released more detailed data about the St. Nikolay cocaine ship affair.

According to their information, the Bulgarian vessel was loaded with cocaine between July 20 and July 24, 2012, in Venezuela.

Spain’s Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz hinted that he believes that all sailors on board of the St. Nikolay ship were aware that they were transporting cocaine since they spent some 20 days on board with the shipment.

Edited from http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=142572

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RENA AGROUND | Second officer in court

[The] second officer from the MV Rena has appeared in the Tauranga District Court this morning.

The navigation officer faced the same charges as the captain under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act which relates to operating a vessel causing unnecessary danger or risk to a person or property.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of $10,000, or a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 months.

The officer was remanded on bail with the same conditions as the ship’s captain, who appeared in the same court yesterday.

The officer’s country of origin and his age were not specified.

The man, who appeared glum as he entered the court, appeared to be of Filipino origin.

He’s been ordered to surrender his passport, granted name suppression and ordered to reappear in court on the 19th of October.

He was also bailed to unknown address and must appear daily to a nominated police station.

Judge Robert Wolff also ordered him not to associate with the skipper, other than for salvage operations.

Keith Catran, a lawyer representing TV3, challenged the suppression orders for the navigation officer.

He said “the public is entitled to openness of reporting, unless there are very clear reasons why that should not be the case.”

Mr Catran said “it’s a unique case where the victims of the defendant are the whole public and the whole community of this area. The result of the incident is in the face of everyone in this town.”

Judge Wolff said it would’ve been unfair to grant suppression for one of the crew members and not the other.

The judge said he could see “no harm in upholding the suppression order for a further week”.

Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10758718

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DAY OF THE SEAFARER | The Pilot’s Psalm

The Lord is my Pilot, I shall not drift.

He guides me across the dark waters.

He steers me in deep channels.

He keeps my log. 

He pilots me by the star of holiness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I sail ‘mid the fenders and tempests of life I shall dread no danger for He is near me. 

His love and care shelter me.

He prepares a harbor before me in the homeland of eternity.

He anoints the waves with oil, my ship rides calmly.

Surely sunlight and starlight shall favor me on my voyages and I will rest in the Port of our Lord forever.

Source: http://www.usmm.org/memorialservice.html

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PIRACY | Hijacked Algerian seafarers “appeal for urgent help”

From Echorouk (Algeria), 2011.06.24

One of the 17 Algerian sailors held for about six months now by Somali pirates off the Somali coasts, namely Moundhir Abderrahmane, got in touch by phone with his family settled in the western province of Tipaza and heartily appealed to the Algerian authorities to take swift action in order to end their appalling ordeal at the hands of the callous Somali pirates.

He described the situation of the crew on board the hijacked MV Blida bulk carrier as horrendous, stressing that the Algerian seamen were underfed, ill-treated and in a poor health condition owing to the pirates’ heavy-handed and unyielding practices.

The hapless Algerian seafarer urged, on behalf of all his comrades, the Algerian authorities to act without further prevarication and rescue them before it is too late.

He expressed the cherished hope that their much-awaited rescue would happen before the start of the holy month of fasting of Ramadhan, slated for early August, because the Algerian sailors’ patience was wearing thin on account of their dire and unbearable plight, as he sadly put it.

Members of the Algerian sailors’ families have meanwhile staged protracted sit-ins in front of the maritime company “I.B.C”, the ship owner in the district of Hydra in upper Algiers to pressurize the company managers into taking the necessary steps to help liberate their unfortunate sons from the pirates’ clutches. However, this vexed issue seems to be very intricate to sort out as Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz said recently that Algeria would not pay any ransom to the Somali pirates.

Mr Belaiz underlined in a statement to the press that Algeria was the first country to have “called, before the UN general assembly, for the payment of ransom to criminals and kidnappers to become a criminal act”. Paying ransom encourages criminals and finances terrorism, he said.

The MV Blida, a 20,586 tonne Algerian-flagged bulk carrier, was captured on January 1, 2011 by the Somali pirates, around 150 miles south-east of Salalah, in southern Oman.

The vessel had left Salalah port and was headed for Dar-e-Salaam in Tanzania when it was attacked by the pirates.

MV Blida has a crew of 27, including 17 Algerians, as well as Ukrainians and Filipinos and is carrying a cargo of clinker. [It] was registered with MSC(HOA) but had not reported to UKMTO.

There are now 28 vessels and 654 hostages being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia, according to EU NAVFOR.

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PIRACY | Freed Indian seafarers back home

From The Hindu (India), 2011.06.24:

After 10 months in the captivity of Somali pirates, six Indian sailors of MV Suez vessel touched down on home soil on Friday to an emotional welcome from family members.

The sailors came by an Emirates flight from Dubai which landed at IGI Airport at 9.36 am, and were received by family and friends carrying garlands.

Relatives broke down in tears at the sight of the rescued sailors as their children carried placards that read ’Thank you Ansar Burney uncle, we love you’, in a reference to the Pakistani human rights activist who facilitated their release from the sea brigands.

Closely holding his three-year-old son, Ravinder Singh Bhulia, one of the released crew members who hails from Rohtak, said, “The Indian and Pakistani media helped us a lot. As far as the Indian government’s role in the release, I don’t want to comment on it“.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, his wife Champa said, “The pain would never go“.

Another released crew member Prashant Chauhan said, “I am very happy. I waited for this moment for 10 months“.

The Indians were part of the 22 member crew, including four Pakistanis, a Sri Lankan and 11 Egyptians, who were freed last week after ransom was paid to the Somali pirates.

The crew of the MV Suez was brought to Karachi on Thursday by Pakistan Navy warship PNS Zulfiqar, which had picked up sailors from the waters off Oman.The MV Suez had sank somewhere off the coast of Oman after running out of fuel.

There was no government representative to receive them at the airport.

N K Sharma, another released crew member, said, “Whatever the Pakistan government has done is really praiseworthy. We don’t know what the Indian government did or did not, but the Pakistan government has treated us well.”

Recounting his ordeal, Sharma said they starved for many days and on some days they just got water.

“We used to get boiled rice, spaghetti and potato once a week,” he said.

Family members of the released men thanked Mr. Burney for facilitating the release of the sailors, but complained that the Indian government did little to save the sailors.

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MARITIME | The other side of piracy

This is a documentary produced and directed by the Spaniard Juan Falque (http://www.juanfalque.com/). It offers an alternative view of the Somali piracy that deserves attention, in my opinion. This is not to say that I agree with that view — for instance, many of the pirates are profiting from the suffering of innocent people, which is hardly excusable.

At any rate, I think it is worth watching (the audio is in Spanish, but there are subtitles in English, French and Portuguese). It will certainly give you food for thought: http://dotsub.com/view/8446e7d0-e5b4-496a-a6d2-38767e3b520a

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MARITIME | Spotlight on Seafarers – video

This is a video from a TV show I recently found in Youtube. It surely deserves some minutes of your attention, even if you are not British — after all, Friday is the Day of the Seafarer…

A shortened version (about 6 min long) is available below:

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