We were delighted to welcome ShipMoney to our network of members at the end of 2016. Greg O’Connell, Business Development Manager, spoke to us about the company’s current focus of work and commitment to seafarers’ welfare.

For more information about becoming an ISWAN member, please contact us here.

Can you tell us about ShipMoney’s services and company values?

We are rather unconventional in our business approach. Our culture has been developed to lead with the ‘Why’ are we in business followed by the ‘How’ and ‘What’ rather than the conventional methodology i.e. What, How and Why. At our core is the ‘CAUSE’ challenging the conventional expensive methods of foreign exchange and cash management issues for the seafarer and ship owner providing alternatives delivering consistent time and cost savings and becoming a customer-champion-company.

Which areas of seafarers’ welfare and wellbeing do you think ShipMoney can make a positive impact on?

Seafarers’ welfare and wellbeing in my opinion can be rolled into one large dynamic
as they both impact the logical and emotional aspects for our crew. Our seafarers perform at a very high level and the common denominator is that they provide financially for their families whilst at sea. Their salaries either in full or part are made available to the family and it is our mission to ensure that the seafarer gets as much of their money as they possibly can by removing the large and expensive institutions that hitherto have penalized crew.

What prompted ShipMoney to join ISWAN? What do you hope to gain from ISWAN membership?

I have witnessed personally over the years the great work ISWAN performs for our industry. All too often, again in my opinion, we have the capacity to dilute, usually unintentionally, the effort the seafarers deliver in performing their duties and the emotional burden it takes to be away from their families and friends ashore. For these reasons, ShipMoney wants to be involved with ISWAN not only to continually promote ISWAN to our clients but to also be in the position to give something back, and we look forward to working towards this with ISWAN in the near future.

Are there any current initiatives or projects that are helping to improve the lives of seafarers that you’d like to talk about?

A number of crew mentioned to us that ‘it’s expensive being a seafarer’. They wanted the opportunity to transfer money home or shop online without leaving their vessel/port all within a competitively priced, intuitive and transparent platform. We listened to their requests, provided the right instruments and we are delighted to see thousands of crew monthly optimizing e-commerce sites, transferring money all from their vessel or alongside which ultimately continues to improve their work life balance.

30th January 2017

The North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA) has published the results of its research into port levies and voluntary contributions for seafarers’ welfare in a report also providing best practice guidance.

The research, conducted by NAMMA’s Director of Programs, Michael Skaggs, emphasises the importance of active support from port authorities to ensure the future financial security of seafarers’ welfare providers, even though port authorities are neither the source nor object of funding. The survey found that the single greatest indicator of a seafarer centre’s financial success through port levies was a productive relationship with port authorities willing to help publicise the good work of the centres and relay to shipping the importance of the services provided by these centres.

The majority of seafarers’ centres with a port welfare voluntary contribution in place (only half of those contacted) were found to receive little assistance from port levies. The report recommends the encouragement of those in port authorities and shipping to get to know the seafarer centres that operate in their ports and terminals to build and strengthen relationships, and suggests that the collection and distribution of existing port levies are reviewed.

The full report can be downloaded here.

19th January 2017

The latest amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) require ship owners to have insurance to provide compensation to seafarers and their families in the case of abandonment, death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard.

Under the new provisions, which came into force yesterday, ships whose flag states have ratified the MLC must carry mandatory certificates and other evidence on board to establish that a financial security system is in place.

Seafarers in danger of abandonment can contact the insurance company, which will cover up to four months’ outstanding wages and entitlements in line with the seafarer’s employment agreement, along with reasonable expenses such as repatriation, medical care, and food and drinking water (more information can be found here). The new requirement of the MLC is expected to prevent cases where seafarers remain stranded in port for long periods when ship owners abandon their crews without paying wages or repatriating them.

Payment of outstanding claims to seafarers or their families in cases of death or long-term disability resulting from their employment will also be expedited.

16th January 2017

An ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) inspector has issued a last ditch call to a ship owner and its flag state to act to stop the suffering of a 17-strong crew abandoned in Algeria.

ITF inspector Mohamed Arrachedi has raised the alarm over the case of the Panama-flagged, Turkish-owned Seahonest (IMO 9142100) whose crew has been stranded unpaid and unprovisioned in the Port of Algiers for seven months.

Mohamed Arrachedi explained the urgency of his appeal: “The crew are on the brink. I believe there’s a real risk of suicide – that’s how desperate they are. The company has washed its hands of them, yet continues to operate other vessels. It’s a human disgrace, I believe they are happy to see the men reach breaking point in the hope that they will leave without a cent of what they’re owed.

“Either the company or the flag state has to act. The only reason the crew hasn’t starved is because of the food and humanitarian assistance provided by the ITF, Algerian trade unions, the port authority of Algiers Port and the embassies of India and Turkey.”

In a letter to the Panama Maritime Authority and the ship’s owner, Seyfullah Dalgin of Vera Denizcilik Ithalat ve Ihracat Tic Ltd, Sti Ismail pasa sok No:77, 34718 Kosuyolu, Kadikoy - Istanbul (www.verashipping.com), Mr Arrachedi wrote:

It is with maximum concern and worry, that, once more, we are contacting you Mr Seyfullah, to ask you for a quick, complete plan to come to a solution to the situation of the seafarers on board of the Seahonest in the Port of Algiers.

Sincerely, under all scopes and perspectives, not only from a legal or regulatory status, and/or a human perspective, it is absolutely unacceptable and non-understandable, that until now, and after more than six months on board, there is absolutely no plan, no programme to find a solution to the situation of the 17 crew on board (2 Turkish and 15 Indian nationals).

The crew on board are suffering the very bad conditions on board, the cold and very heavy psychological conditions. The absence of a plan, and the absence of fulfillment of the promises from your side, makes the situation on board at the limit of what any human being can to support. We have asked the company to arrange repatriation. This has been promised many times.

What is the real intention of the company? What is the company waiting for to start acting? Is the company’s plan to wait till the crew get more desperate and then accede to repatriation?

The crew capacity to support more is at its limit. Please act and act quickly. The crew are looking forward to getting paid and repatriated. Your company can put other crew on board, and stop the suffering of those on board. It is your responsibility to do so.

On Saturday one of the crew members sent the following SMS to Mohamed Arrachedi: “Is there any news or updates for us? Everybody are very tense, mentally tired and desperate to go home and anxious to know when and how our problem will be solved"

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Piracy Survivors Family Fund, November 2016

The CGPCS Piracy Survivors Family Fund (PSFF) provides funds for the survivors of Somali piracy, and for their families, to assist with financial hardship and to provide support at a time of need. The fund is held in pounds sterling by ISWAN and administered on behalf of the CGPCS.

Affected families can get directly in touch with ISWAN through the 24 hour helpline, more often referrals come through the field workers of ISWAN / MPHRP, who are on hand in Asia and able to signpost survivors and families to the fund. There are other means of assistance which are not financial, such as help finding work, or referrals to other agencies to deal with wage or contractual claims.

Once referred, the details are presented to ISWAN on a form, and the merits of funding applications considered by four independent people connected to the shipping industry and knowledgeable about piracy and the humanitarian needs of survivors and families. When agreement is reached, funds are paid to the applicant, and follow-up made to ensure the funds are spent appropriately.

The contributors to the fund since it started have been as follows:

12/02/2015 Forsvarskommandoen Denmark  £  12,892.52
17/02/2015 Norsk Sjomannsforbund  £  1,590.30
18/02/2015 Norsk Sjooffisersforbund  £  1,592.44
19/02/2015 Det Norske Maskinistforbund  £  1,628.54
16/03/2015 FCO United Kingdom  £  20,000.00
16/04/2015 Den Norske Krigsforsikring  £  3,277.09
27/04/2015 Norges Rederiforbund  £  3,232.97
29/10/2015 Government of Taiwan  £  20,603.00
04/12/2015 Den Norske Krigsforsikring £   3,319.00

These donations have provided a total of £68,135.86, currently the equivalent of USD 85,133. The table below covers the payments made by the fund since the last report in May 2016. Donations are agreed in USD.

 

Donations made during the period June – October 2016:

Name Country Ship Grant allocation USD Date
1 Oliver Philippines Smyrni School fees $ 750 20/7/2016
2 Antonio Philippines Naham 3 Livelihood support and medical expenses $ 1,650 25/7/2016
3 26 hostages various Naham 3 ex-gratia payment USD 500 pp paid to 16 hostages, and assistance with flights home for the Cambodian hostages  $ 13,000 21/7/2016
4 3 hostages Vietnam Naham3 reception when released  $ 2,992 24/10/2016
5 4 hostages Cambodia Naham 3 reception when released  $ 4,795 24/10/2016
6 5 hostages Philippines Naham 3 reception when released  $ 4,502 24/10/2016
7 10 hostages China and Taiwan Naham 3 Ex-gratia payment of USD 500 pp $ 5,000 Not yet paid
   

Funds expended and committed during this period total USD 32,689.

Funds expended during the previous period July 2015 to May 2016, USD 23,824.

 

Hostages currently held in Somalia:

The seafarers from the Siraj, estimated that 10 of them remain in Somalia out of an original 17 who were captured in March 2015.

Siraj: ISWAN / MPHRP is making efforts to find the families of the hostages in Iran, in order to discover how they are managing and whether the programme is able to offer any assistance. We are also seeking someone in Iran who is involved in the negotiations to free the hostages to make sure that they are in touch with the Hostage Support Partnership, and John Steed in Mombasa. We have tried various leads in Iran, but have not so far managed to make any headway on this.

 

Release of the Naham 3 hostages:

On 22 October the news broke of the release of the remaining 26 survivors of the Naham 3 from their captivity in Somalia of over four and a half years. Funds had already been sent to the Hostage Support Partnership in Kenya for payment of USD 500 per seafarer on release, as they had no salaries being paid while they were held by the pirates. Other organisations also donated funds when meant that the seafarers went home with well over USD 1,000 each. The exception to this was the nine Chinese and the one Taiwanese seafarers, who were repatriated too quickly for the funds to be given to them. Instead, the remaining USD 5,000 was put towards the air tickets of the four Cambodian seafarers, who had not received any support for their repatriation and needed urgent assistance to get home.

Funds were also provided for a welcome for the seafarers of the Naham 3 when they arrived in the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam. These funds enabled a well-managed reception of the hostages when they arrived in their home country; for the families of the hostages to travel to meet with them at the airport of arrival, and to spend two days together before they travelled home. Professional support, medical and psychological, was made available. In the Philippines, the reception was managed and much of it paid for by the government, but not the flight of one of the wives who came home from her job in Hong Kong to meet her husband at the airport. Some of the governments also provided some funds to the seafarers, in the region of USD 100 to 2,000 each depending on the country where these were given. At the time of writing the seafarers are all home, some have been told not to discuss their experiences, and we are still seeking to make contact with the seafarers and families who we have not been able to reach to date.

 

The future:

Some of the Naham 3 seafarers are likely to need significant help over the next six months. While they have received funds which will support them for a couple of months, many of them are suffering from nightmares, poor sleep, and difficulty in adjusting to life at home. It is important to speak to the families as well as the seafarers, and to follow them up on a monthly basis at least, by phone and through visits where needed, in the coming months. One has had a stroke and may need much longer-term help. Almost all of them come from poor families, and don’t have any kind of social security support.
There are other funds which have also assisted survivors and their families, and who have helped in a number of cases. Seafarers UK will assist UK and Commonwealth citizens who have been affected by piracy, and have recently helped two seafarers in Bangladesh who are re-training to get the necessary certificates to get back to sea again. The Sailors Society has a particular emphasis on assisting with education and medical expenses, and have also helped those in need applying through ISWAN / MPHRP over this period. This has meant that we have been able to make the PSFF funds go further.
There is a need for funds for piracy survivors who are the victims of pirates in West Africa, and also because of the hostage taking in South East Asia. We are appealing for funds from donors to do this for the MPHRF, the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Fund, which provides help for seafarers of any nationality who have been the victims of piracy or armed robbery anywhere in the world.

 

Case histories:

1/ Philippines: the family of Antonio, Naham 3, a grant of USD 1,650.

The mother of Antonio was helped with medical assistance for appendicitis. The family struggled to send the mother to the hospital for a check-up and medication and was forced to go further into debt to provide the necessary treatment for her. The indebtedness started when the hostage decided to go to sea, and they mortgaged their small rice plantation just to complete all the necessary requirements for him to go on board a ship. But unfortunately the dream became a nightmare to the family when the seafarer was captured by Somali pirates.

The programme was able to help the family for medical expenses and a small subsistence allowance as well. In addition, the land has been redeemed back for the family to help them survive since there would be no other alternative resources for them because they are situated in an agricultural area and farming is the only way of making a living there. The family expressed their heartfelt gratitude and said that they will never forget what has been done to help them. We hope that by doing this the PSFF has provided long-term assistance to the family of this hostage by getting them out of a situation where half of their crop was being given as an interest payment on the debt on their land.

CGPCS Nov Antonio 1

On the left is the mother of Antonio showing the redeemed land title, while his younger brother is shown in the centre, and Jun Pablo of ISWAN / MPHRP on the right

 

CGPCS Nov Antonio 2

November 2016: A happy conclusion - Antonio returns home, seen here holding the banner on the right hand side. His mother is on the right of the photo

 

2/ Cambodia : welcome for the four returning seafarers in Phnom Penh, a grant of USD 4,795

On the night of Sunday 30 October the four Cambodian hostages from the Naham 3 returned to Phnom Penh after four and a half years of captivity in Somalia, having been captured by pirates in Seychelles waters in March 2012. They were met on their journey home by Apinya Tajit, the MPHRP welfare responder based in Thailand, and by Tek Sopheak of Caritas when they arrived in Cambodia. Apinya and Sopheak had prepared a homecoming package funded by the PSFF for the seafarers and their families, involving transporting the families to meet the seafarers on arrival in Phnom Penh, providing accommodation, medical check-ups and transport to and from their homes.

The four hostages were Thy, Phummany, Hen and Sosan. At least one of these men was involved in saving the lives of some of the seafarers from the ship Albedo, which sank while still attached by cable to the Naham 3 during a storm. They arrived home to huge media interest.

They were released on 22 October thanks to the intervention and work of the Hostage Support Partnership and John Steed over many months, and were flown to Nairobi the day afterwards. In Nairobi, they were fed, provided with new clothes and given medical check-ups. Following arrangements made for their repatriation, and being given donations from well-wishing organisations including ISWAN, they were flown home via the Philippines. At the airport they were met by AoS, Caritas, ISWAN / MPHRP, Interior ministry, foreign ministry, immigration officials and representatives of the IOM. The government welcomed the men and gave each one a donation of Riels 500,000.

Apinya said: “It was wonderful to meet the men who we have been hoping to see for so many years. They are in good health considering the experience that they have had. One survivor had no family to meet him, as his family had not been able to be traced before he arrived home.” Tek Sopheak said “when the seafarers arrived we met with their families and counsellors to help with their feelings and prepare them for the future. The Caritas counselling team included an experienced counsellor and a child psychiatrist.”

CGPCS Nov Phnom Penh

Tek Sopheak on left, Apinya Tajit on right, and the four seafarers wearing scarves

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Piracy Survivors Family Fund

May 2016

The CGPCS Piracy Survivors Family Fund (PSFF) provides funds for the survivors of Somali piracy, and for their families, to assist with financial hardship and to provide support at a time of need. The fund is held in pounds sterling by ISWAN and administered on behalf of the CGPCS.

Affected families can get directly in touch with ISWAN through the 24 hour helpline, more often referrals come through the field workers of ISWAN / MPHRP, who are on hand in Asia and able to signpost survivors and families to the fund. There are other means of assistance which are not financial, such as help finding work, or referrals to other agencies to deal with wage or contractual claims.

Once referred, the details are presented to ISWAN on a form, and the merits of funding applications considered by four independent people connected to the shipping industry and knowledgeable about piracy and the humanitarian needs of survivors and families. When agreement is reached, funds are paid to the applicant, and follow-up made to ensure the funds are spent appropriately.

The contributors to the fund since it started have been as follows:

12/02/2015 Forsvarskommandoen Denmark  £  12,892.52
17/02/2015 Norsk Sjomannsforbund  £  1,590.30
18/02/2015 Norsk Sjooffisersforbund  £  1,592.44
19/02/2015 Det Norske Maskinistforbund  £  1,628.54
16/03/2015 FCO United Kingdom  £  20,000.00
16/04/2015 Den Norske Krigsforsikring  £  3,277.09
27/04/2015 Norges Rederiforbund  £  3,232.97
29/10/2015 Government of Taiwan  £  20,603.00
04/12/2015 Den Norske Krigsforsikring £   3,319.00

 

These donations have provided a total of £68,135.86, currently the equivalent of USD 99,600. The table below covers the payments made by the fund since its inception in 2015. Donations are made in USD.

 

Name

Country

Ship

Grant allocation

USD

Date

1

Claire

Philippines

Naham 3

house repairs and building

 $ 3,260

13/07/2015

2

Akes

Philippines

Naham 3

living expenses

 $  600

21/12/2015

3

Antomio

Philippines

Naham 3

living expenses

 $  600

21/12/2015

4

Ha

Vietnam

Naham 3

school fees

 $ 2,440

31/12/2015

5

Xuan

Vietnam

Naham 3

school fees

 $ 2,440

31/12/2015

6

Phan

Vietnam

Naham 3

medical expenses

 $ 2,250

31/12/2015

7

Sosan

Cambodia

Naham 3

repairs to house

 $ 1,000

14/01/2015

8

Shahriah

Iran

Albedo

dental treatment

 $ 5,387

08/03/2016

9

Rowell

Philippines

Eglantine

motorcycle taxi

 $ 1,920

21/03/2016

10

Larisa

Ukraine

Ariana

medical treatment

 $  876

17/02/2016

12

Maryjane

Philippines

Naham 3

training to become a teacher

 $ 1,681

19/04/2016

13

Rodelo

Philippines

Free Goddess

schooling for two children for one year

 $ 1,370

20/04/2016

14

26 hostages

various

Naham 3

ex-gratia payment USD 500 pp

 $ 13,000

Provision made but payment awaiting release of hostages

15

3 hostages

Vietnam

Naham3

reception when released

 $ 2,992

16

4 hostages

Cambodia

Naham 3

reception when released

 $ 4,555

17

5 hostages

Philippines

Naham 3

reception when released

 $ 3,275

18

14 hostages 

China, Indonesia and Taiwan

Naham 3

reception when released

 $ 9,000

Provision made, but still seeking contact with families

 

 

Funds expended or committed total USD 56,646, leaving a balance of funds of USD 42,953.

 

Hostages currently held in Somalia:

The Naham 3 seafarers, 26 surviving out of 29 taken four years ago, made up of seafarers from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, and the Siraj seafarers, 14 – 17 of them (estimates vary) still held now for just over one year.

Siraj: ISWAN / MPHRP is making efforts to find the families of the hostages in Iran, in order to discover how they are managing and whether the programme is able to offer any assistance. We are also seeking someone in Iran who is involved in the negotiations to free the hostages to make sure that they are in touch with the Hostage Support Partnership, and John Steed in Mombasa.

Naham 3: there have been occasions over the past nine months when it seemed as though the release of the hostages was about to happen. As a result, we have plans in place for the reception of the hostages once released, which involve a managed reception of the hostages when they arrive in their home country; for the families of the hostages to travel to meet with them at the airport of arrival, and to spend two days together before they travel home. Professional support, medical and psychological, will be available if needed during this time. This has been prepared in Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines. In Taiwan, the one remaining family with a hostage in captivity do not want support at this time. In addition to this, it has been agreed to provide USD 500 to each of the hostages so that they do not go home with nothing. ISWAN / MPHRP is still working to contact the families of the hostages in China and Indonesia, who have been very difficult to find.

The Naham 3 hostages and their rehabilitation remain the largest likely call upon the PSFF.

The future:

Some of the survivors of Somali piracy still need assistance, apart from the Naham 3. There has been an emphasis on providing funds to assist with the earning of a living where possible, or assisting with capital expenses or medical expenses which are a huge strain on the financial resources available in families without a breadwinner.

There are other funds which have also assisted survivors and their families, and who have helped in a number of cases. Seafarers UK will assist UK and Commonwealth citizens who have been affected by piracy, and have helped seafarers and families in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Sailors Society has a particular emphasis on assisting with education and medical expenses, and have also helped those in need applying through ISWAN / MPHRP over this period. This has meant that we have been able to make the PSFF funds go further.

There is a need for funds for piracy survivors who are the victims of pirates in West Africa, and also because of the hostage taking in South East Asia. We are appealing for funds from donors to do this for the MPHRF, the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Fund, which provides help for seafarers of any nationality who have been the victims of piracy or armed robbery anywhere in the world.

 

Case histories:

1/ Philippines: Rowell, survivor of the Eglantine

PSFF provided USD 1,920 for a motorcycle taxi, permits and licence to enable a seafarer to earn a living.

Rowell has needed assistance since his return from the release of the Eglantine from Somali pirates in 2012, when two Filipino seafarers died. He has not been able to go back to sea, and the programme has worked with him and with his young family, to assist in his mental and physical rehabilitation. Jun Pablo, ISWAN / MPHRP in the Philippines, reported: “Rowell received the last and final financial assistance from MPHRP by providing him a tricycle taxi which was the most effective way for him to earn the subsistence for his family. Along with the purchasing of the tricycle unit is the processing of the tricycle taxi franchise in the City Hall of Tarlac City which will be finished as soon as the registration papers from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will be available…the tricycle taxi is also subject for membership to the association of tricycle operators and drivers (TODA) which I found very accommodating to Rowell.” This was delivered to him in April 2016. He has named the vehicle ‘Piracy Survivor’ and can be seen here with his wife and children, and Jun Pablo of ISWAN / MPHRP who has worked with Rowell over the last four years.

CGPCS Rowell

 

2/ Vietnam: Phan, current hostage of Naham 3 in Somalia

PSFF provided USD 2,250 for medical treatment for his mother.

Phan supports his mother and father, aged 58 and 72 respectively. Partly due to the worry of the absence of her son, his mother had a serious cerebrovascular accident (a stroke) in November 2014, and she has had further incidents needing hospitalisation since then. Capt. Viet Ahn, for ISWAN / MPHRP in Vietnam, explained: “She has been hospitalized and treated in Binh Duong and in Ha Noi, 2,000 and 300 kilometres away from her home respectively. Most recently, she was just admitted in the district hospital then immediately conveyed up to the provincial hospital for better treatment because of serious illness. So far she is treated in Binh hospital, leaving the house in the home village with no one living in it. No one except the patient’s husband (Phan’s father) undertakes escorting and taking care of the patient. The hospitalizations and treatments are considerably high in cost for them. Three hospitalisations for the mother, which has cost the family VND 25 million per treatment, has meant costs for them of over VND 75 million in total (USD 3,400).” The programme agreed a contribution towards these costs to assist with the expenses of treatment.
The photograph shows the parents of Phan, with Capt Viet Anh.

CGPCS Phan

We are delighted to be able to provide the Story of Aman. Entitled "A Man Who Never Gives Up – Journey Of A Lifetime" this account of being a captive of pirates in Somalia is written in his own words and provides a unique story of the time he spent as a hostage.

MV Albedo, a Malaysian flag vessel with crew from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Iran was hijacked by Somali pirates on 26 November 2010 in the Indian Ocean. The pirates demanded ransom from the Iranian owner but the negotiations failed and the crew had to undergo a horrendous ordeal, staying in captivity for a long time. The seven Pakistani crew (including the captain) were released after a deal struck between a Pakistani NGO and the pirates, and the remaining the crew were left. The pirates shot one of the Indian seafarers due to a heated argument with the owner over failed negotiations.

The remaining crew were taken ashore from time to time in turn and made to live in the harshest of conditions, with poor quality food and rations. In the month of July 2013, the ship sank and four Sri Lankan seafarers were lost. The remaining seafarers - seven Bangladeshi, one Indian (Aman Kumar) and one Iranian - were taken onto land until their release from captivity on 6 June 2014.
Mr Aman Kumar joined this – his first - ship after paying some money to a local agent in order to get work at sea. He had completed his pre-sea course and was 19 years old at the time the ship was hijacked, so one of the youngest seaman onboard, but he displayed a lot of maturity, courage and strength during his captivity. Chirag Bahri, of ISWAN / MPHRP South Asia, said of Aman: "He led from the front when left in the hands of merciless pirates who would beat them brutally and who did not give them proper food. The crew's morale was lifted up due to Mr Kumar's good behaviour with his fellow crew and he created an atmosphere of trust and good relations. He interacted with the Somali pirates and learnt fluent Somali so as to communicate with them on the needs of the other crew members. This made life easier during captivity for all of them. During their escape, he showed a great sense of reliability and helped other crew who were in poor health to come along."
MPHRP South Asia was in regular contact with his family during the period of captivity and also assisted the family with financial support so his brother could get an education at college. The parents were invited to Mumbai and were provided with counselling from Dr Harish Shetty. The programme gave them moral and humanitarian support and kept them updated on news about their captured relative.

On release, the parents were invited to Mumbai again and they met with their son after four years of captivity. Mr Kumar was assisted with psychological support and with good financial support from industry and unions. The first thing Aman mentioned to Chirag Bahri on release was: "I will join shipping again after staying at home for a few months." When he declared his intention to go back to sea again, there was resistance by his family members, which is understandable, but Mr Kumar was confident that if he joined a good shipping company, such problems will not arise in future. He has done so and is now back at sea again.
His story can be downloaded below.

London and Kuala Lumpur, 10 January 2017

More crew were kidnapped at sea in 2016 than in any of the previous 10 years, despite global piracy reaching its lowest levels since 1998, the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) annual piracy report revealed today.

In its 2016 report, IMB recorded 191 incidents of piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas.

“The continued fall in piracy is good news, but certain shipping routes remain dangerous, and the escalation of crew kidnapping is a worrying trend in some emerging areas,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB whose Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) has monitored world piracy since 1991.

“The kidnappings in the Sulu Seas between eastern Malaysia and the Philippines are a particular concern,” he added.

Worldwide in 2016, 150 vessels were boarded, 12 vessels were fired upon, seven were hijacked, and 22 attacks were thwarted. The number of hostages fell to 151.

Maritime kidnappings, however, showed a threefold increase on 2015. Pirates kidnapped 62 people for ransom in 15 separate incidents in 2016. Just over half were captured off West Africa, while 28 were kidnapped from tugs, barges, fishing boats, and more recently merchant ships, around Malaysia and Indonesia.

IMB is urging governments to investigate and identify the kidnappers and punish them under law.

Mr Mukundan said ships should stay vigilant in high-risk areas. “Shipmasters should follow the latest best management practices and where possible take early action to avoid being boarded. They should inform the IMB PRC or regional counter piracy centres for help and advice,” he said.

Sulu Sea kidnappings

The kidnapping of crew from ocean going merchant vessels in the Sulu Sea and their transfer to the Southern Philippines represents a notable escalation in attacks. In the last quarter, 12 crew were kidnapped from two cargo vessels underway and an anchored fishing vessel, and in November a bulk carrier was fired upon but pirates were not able to board the vessel. Earlier in 2016, crewmembers were kidnapped in three attacks on vulnerable slow-moving tugs and barges.
IMB advises charterers and owners to consider avoiding the Sulu Sea by routing vessels West of Kalimantan.

Nigeria hotspot

The Gulf of Guinea remained a kidnap hotspot in 2016, with 34 crew taken in nine separate incidents. Three vessels were hijacked in the region. There was a noticeable increase in attacks reported off Nigeria: 36 incidents in 2016, up from 14 in 2015. These included nine of the 12 vessels fired upon worldwide in 2016. Some were almost 100 nautical miles from the coastline.

Meanwhile, Indonesian piracy incidents fell from 108 in 2015 to 49 in 2016. Although the overwhelming majority were low-level thefts, vessels were boarded in all but three of the incidents.

Somalia risk

IMB recorded two incidents off Somalia. Pirates attempted to attack a container vessel in the Gulf of Aden in May, and fired on a product tanker in the Somali basin some 300 nm from shore in October. For IMB, this latest incident demonstrates that the capacity and intent to attack merchant shipping still exists off Somalia.

Elsewhere…

Peru reported 11 incidents – 10 of them at the country’s main port of Callao – compared to zero in 2015. The number of incidents in Vung Tau, Vietnam dropped from 15 in 2015 to seven in 2016. Bangladesh also witnessed a welcome decrease, down from 11 in 2015 to three in 2016.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is the world’s only independent 24-hour manned centre to receive reports of pirate attacks from around the world. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB PRC. This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international organisation can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.

Follow the @IMB_Piracy via #IMBPiracy

IMB offers the latest piracy reports free of charge. To request a PDF version of the report by email, visit:

https://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/request-piracy-report

For further information, please contact:
Pottengal MUKUNDAN
Director, IMB
Tel: +44 20 7423 6960
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

London and Kuala Lumpur, 10 January 2017

More crew were kidnapped at sea in 2016 than in any of the previous 10 years, despite global piracy reaching its lowest levels since 1998, the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) annual piracy report revealed today.

In its 2016 report, IMB recorded 191 incidents of piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas.

“The continued fall in piracy is good news, but certain shipping routes remain dangerous, and the escalation of crew kidnapping is a worrying trend in some emerging areas,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB whose Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) has monitored world piracy since 1991.

“The kidnappings in the Sulu Seas between eastern Malaysia and the Philippines are a particular concern,” he added.

Worldwide in 2016, 150 vessels were boarded, 12 vessels were fired upon, seven were hijacked, and 22 attacks were thwarted. The number of hostages fell to 151.

Maritime kidnappings, however, showed a threefold increase on 2015. Pirates kidnapped 62 people for ransom in 15 separate incidents in 2016. Just over half were captured off West Africa, while 28 were kidnapped from tugs, barges, fishing boats, and more recently merchant ships, around Malaysia and Indonesia.

IMB is urging governments to investigate and identify the kidnappers and punish them under law.

Mr Mukundan said ships should stay vigilant in high-risk areas. “Shipmasters should follow the latest best management practices and where possible take early action to avoid being boarded. They should inform the IMB PRC or regional counter piracy centres for help and advice,” he said.

Sulu Sea kidnappings

The kidnapping of crew from ocean going merchant vessels in the Sulu Sea and their transfer to the Southern Philippines represents a notable escalation in attacks. In the last quarter, 12 crew were kidnapped from two cargo vessels underway and an anchored fishing vessel, and in November a bulk carrier was fired upon but pirates were not able to board the vessel. Earlier in 2016, crewmembers were kidnapped in three attacks on vulnerable slow-moving tugs and barges.
IMB advises charterers and owners to consider avoiding the Sulu Sea by routing vessels West of Kalimantan.

Nigeria hotspot

The Gulf of Guinea remained a kidnap hotspot in 2016, with 34 crew taken in nine separate incidents. Three vessels were hijacked in the region. There was a noticeable increase in attacks reported off Nigeria: 36 incidents in 2016, up from 14 in 2015. These included nine of the 12 vessels fired upon worldwide in 2016. Some were almost 100 nautical miles from the coastline.

Meanwhile, Indonesian piracy incidents fell from 108 in 2015 to 49 in 2016. Although the overwhelming majority were low-level thefts, vessels were boarded in all but three of the incidents.

Somalia risk

IMB recorded two incidents off Somalia. Pirates attempted to attack a container vessel in the Gulf of Aden in May, and fired on a product tanker in the Somali basin some 300 nm from shore in October. For IMB, this latest incident demonstrates that the capacity and intent to attack merchant shipping still exists off Somalia.

Elsewhere…

Peru reported 11 incidents – 10 of them at the country’s main port of Callao – compared to zero in 2015. The number of incidents in Vung Tau, Vietnam dropped from 15 in 2015 to seven in 2016. Bangladesh also witnessed a welcome decrease, down from 11 in 2015 to three in 2016.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is the world’s only independent 24-hour manned centre to receive reports of pirate attacks from around the world. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB PRC. This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international organisation can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.

Follow the @IMB_Piracy via #IMBPiracy

IMB offers the latest piracy reports free of charge. To request a PDF version of the report by email, visit:

https://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/request-piracy-report

For further information, please contact:
Pottengal MUKUNDAN
Director, IMB
Tel: +44 20 7423 6960
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ISWAN is excited to announce the launch of our 2017 Photo Competition for seafarers.

We are inviting all seafarers to submit photos of a typical day in seafaring life, including work, port and leisure time. Entrants do not have to be experienced photographers with expensive cameras – just a smartphone is fine, but photos must be high resolution and those featuring people are encouraged.

The winner will receive a new GoPro HERO5 Session. They will also feature in future ISWAN publications, and all shortlisted entries will be showcased on ISWAN’s social media pages.

The deadline for entries is Friday 10th February 2017. Our panel of judges will decide on the shortlist, winner and runners up, and these will be announced in late February. Our judges this year are:

Luca Tommasi, Project Manager, ITF Seafarers’ Trust
Sue Henney, Head of Marketing, KVH Media Group
Sampsa Sihvola, CEO, Finnish Seamen’s Service

Any seafarers wishing to enter may send up to five high resolution images to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., including their full name, address and phone number in order to be contacted if successful, along with the name of their ship and where the photo was taken.

Please visit the following page for the competition rules and further details: seafarerswelfare.org/what-we-do/projects/iswan-photo-competition-2017