On the 29th of March 2010, the MV Iceberg, a panama flagged vessel belonging to Azal Shipping Company based in Dubai was attacked by pirates en-route to Dubai from Port of Eden in Yemen with a cargo of heavy duty Cummins generators, some transformers and empty ISO containers.
The vessel together with its’ 24 man crew from 6 different nationalities (6 Indians, 4 Ghanaians, 2 Pakistanis, 2 Sudanese, 9 Yemenis and 1 Filipino) stayed under the control of the pirates for 33 months, thus 2 years and 9 months during which many events occurred that left lots of unanswered questions on the minds of the crew.
After just 6 months of sailing with MV Iceberg, Jewel Ahiable, a Ghanaian was taken captive alongside other members of the crew. This pirate activity was carried out by the infamous Somalian pirates while the ship was sailing in the Indian Ocean.
In an interview with the Ghanaian captive, he revealed certain chilling events surrounding the attack and the aftermath of it which culminated into their 1,000 days in captivity. These events left lots of doubts on their minds with regards to the safety of the seafarer, or to put in a better phrase “the safety and rights of a seafarer from a developing country.”
In his revelations, he mentioned that, not until the pirates captured the vessel and summoned them to the captains bridge did he see some files detailing successful piracy evasive measures, he went on to add that
“ I have been on that ship for 6 months and never did we have any drill or training in this evasive measures even though they were made available through those files. In fact if we had a drill on what to do and when to do what, I believe the situation would have been different. The only training we had was a fire drill a day before we set sail from Yemen.”
His account on unfolding events really stresses the importance of training and regular drills for the seafarer especially in pirate-prone zones. In another heartwarming disclosure, Jewel recollects how at least on more than four different occasions, naval ships came close to them but never rescued them even with full knowledge that they have been taken captives. On one instance, he mentioned of how a few hours after the 29th march attack, a naval vessel came close and with knowledge of the attack wanted to come on board, the pirates however refused and asked the naval vessel to steer 20 nautical miles off, an order which to the surprise of the crew was obliged to by the navy ship as it escorted the pirates together with the vessel for four days until they got to Somalia.
“This particular incident marveled us on board.” Jewel added, “we just don’t understand the law surrounding piracy, when and where is it considered a crime and who could help with rescue? These are questions that lingered on our minds during our ordeal and even till now. I keep wondering, if we had one American, a British, French or German on board would we have taken that long to be rescued? Well, that’s a question that I guess you already know the answer to. In my view, I think the world neglected us, they did not do enough.”
Jewel who happens to be the only marine electrician on board the vessel had to go through a lot to keep the vessel habitable during their captivity. He took time off to document every event before, during and until their rescue a 1000 days later. In fact, I was very surprised to meet someone that good with dates and time as he could give exact details of every event that occurred on the ship with dates, time and even some secret pictures which he made available to me.
Keep reading for an interview with him where he talked about his survival techniques, how he made secret phone calls to some media outlets in Ghana during captivity, being forced on two occasions by the pirates to join them in attacking other vessels and their 13 days ‘Hollywood style’ action packed rescue operation.
In the mean time, this disclosure raises serious questions on when and where (high seas or territorial waters) piracy is considered a crime, what should be done to ensure the safety of the seafarer who sails through such dangers to bring us the goods we love to enjoy, whether to pay or not to pay the ransom demanded by pirates and whether the world really did enough by allowing this men in their normal line of duty to be robbed of a 1000 productive days of their lives.
CLICK HERE to read the interview
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