Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pirate Update: Ariana Crew Abandoned Again

NAIROBI, Kenya -- One of the most inhumane and cruel Somali piracy stories of 2009 involve the tragic happenings on MV ARIANA, the Greek/British-owned, Malta-flagged and Ukrainian-crewed cargo vessel held in Somalia for six months until a ransom between USD 2.8 million and USD 3.5 million was paid for the release of the 37,955 gross tonnage bulk carrier.

A female sailor is beaten by her ship's engineer so severely that she loses her unborn child; it is the MV ARIANA's tragic story of poverty, piracy, unexpected heroes, and a captive crew turning on themselves.

While one side of the coin is the criminal act of piracy committed by misled, desperate Somali sea-shifta, the non-Somali side must be held responsible for all the crimes and cruelties caused by the inaction of the shipowner-conglomerate represented by Greek national Captain Spyros Minas and the Ukrainian officials.

Tragedy

The simple case of an abduction for ransom, which the Somalis claim as compensation for the devastation of their livelihoods by toxic dumping and illegal fishing in earlier years, turned into a nightmare when one of the two female sailors of Ukraine nationality, who was five months pregnant, was beaten by the Ukrainian engineer onboard so severely that she suffered a miscarriage.

The Somali pirate captors who witnessed the scene in early July were so furious about the murder of the unborn child, that they wanted to take the Ukrainian man immediately ashore and execute him according to Sharia law.

Official Ignorance

After the sad news transpired and was immediately verified by an Ukrainian speaking doctor and gynecologist from Nairobi, who was allowed to give medical advice to the seriously ill woman, Larysa Salinska, the humanitarian branch of ECOTERRA Intl. immediately offered to evacuate both women from the vessel.

The offer was accepted by the pirates but persistently refused by the shipowner and never facilitated by the Ukrainian government, despite the fact that the situation of the woman became life-threatening because the miscarriage resulted in a serious infection.

“I was bleeding like a tap. I thought I would die from bleeding,” Salinska, 39, the ship’s cook, said tearfully on August 30 to the Kyiv Post.

It must be stated at this point also that the master of the ship, Captain Genadiy Voronov, was reluctant to demand the evacuation, because he believed the sick and the other woman on board, Natalia Los, were push-factors for an early release of vessel and all crew. He didn't calculate the cruelty and ignorance of the shipowner and his own governmental officials.

Spin, Spin, Spin

Though the fetus is still kept in the cold storage of the ship, it turns out that the crew of the seized Spanish fishing vessel FV ALAKRANA invented a story, which they later even narrated to a judge in Spain, saying they had visited the MV ARIANA, provided fuel, food and medicine, and also observed a third female person on board.

This third female was reported to be the 11 or 12-year old daughter of the second female sailor with blond hair and blue eyes.

All this is believed now to be part of spin-doctoring between Ukrainian, Spanish and Greek politicians of ministerial level to distract from their own failures and to aid a stronger European military approach for which the misled public outcry over these atrocities was seen as necessary to be approved by the European ministerial conference.

Abandoned Again

While the MV ARIANA had received fuel from another hostage ship to sail off the Somali coast after her final release on 12th December - two days later, as the shipowner claimed before the media - the Ukrainian sailors were not immediately relieved at the nearest possible harbour, but forced by Spyros Minas to sail towards Iran, despite what he knew about the fuel shortage.

The question as to why the ship didn't come to Mombasa or Dubai to exchange the crew and to do the bunkering has so far not been answered but led to immediate speculations that the cargo from Brazil might not just be soybeans and is not supposed to be inspected.

Another story has it that a deal among the release team comprising of the Greek shipowner representative, Ukrainian officials, members of the Kenyan armed forces and an Italian shipping firm went sour, which saw the arrest of the master and six armed Somalis from T/B SOLAND, owned by Southern Engineering of Mombasa, whose Director M. Esposito was not able today to get at least the Tanzanian master released on bond.

With all this turmoil it is obviously right what the Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine (FIS) Mykola Malomuzh stated: "The crew will be back home earliest after the New Year".

Malomuzh says another tugboat is now heading to MV ARIANA for refueling, but that ship is delayed due to stormy weather. Meanwhile, BBC has reported the ARIANA ship owner, who should have coordinated all actions, has set the ship adrift. That information comes from Mikhail Voytenko, the director with the Maritime Bulletin.

"If the bulker reaches the port of designation in Iran, it's good. If not, the ship owner will get insurance," he said.

Extremely Dangerous

Andrew Mwangura, head of the the East African Seafarer's Assistance Programme sees the situation of the vessel as very critical: "To set her adrift is extremely dangerous to the heavily laden ship itself in heavy weather and as well to other ocean-going ships in the area. Such is irresponsible of the owner and demands a full investigation."

British company SEVEN SEAS MARITIME Ltd. from London are calling themselves the only agent, while the ISM manager is ALLOCEANS SHIPPING CO LTD from Athens, Greece and registered ship-owner is CANDELA SHIPPING of Malta - in order to evade tax and regulations by flying this flag of convenience.

The vessel has no ITF approved CBA (collective bargaining agreement)for the crew. Insured by the London P&I Club, this case seems to be another feast for those who profit from piracy, besides the pirates.

ECOTERRA Intl. Spokesman Hans-Juergen Duwe demanded on Christmas eve that a coalition warship immediately secure the MV ARIANA, assist the crew, and since all the EU NAVFOR or CTF vessels have legal and police personnel on board, start investigations into all the mysteries surrounding the vessel and the crew.

"The crew has the right to be rescued, not only from Somali pirates, but also from an inhumane shipowner. And the families as well as the public have a right to know all the truth!" Duwe stated in Germany.

Source: Salem-News

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