Response to hijacking of Aris 13

Source: Tropic Maritime Images, Source: Tropic Maritime Images,

ISWAN responded quickly when we heard that a ship, the Aris 13, had been hijacked off the coast of Somalia on Monday 13th March 2017. Chirag Bahri, ISWAN’s South Asia Regional Director and piracy survivor, made immediate contact with the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the piracy reporting centre, to obtain more details of the ship and crew. As soon as the eight crew members were confirmed as Sri Lankan, Chirag contacted the local welfare responders in Colombo, including the ITF Inspector, Ranjan Perera. Chirag also made contact with the local crewing agency.

ISWAN was in close touch with John Steed of Oceans Beyond Piracy who is based in the region and has expert knowledge of Somali piracy. He kept ISWAN informed of developments as the situation progressed.

The SeafarerHelp team in the ISWAN office were briefed about supporting the families of the hijacked seafarers and they soon began to receive calls from the wife of one of the seafarers. She was extremely distressed after finding out about her husband’s ordeal when he called her under instruction from the pirates who had hijacked the vessel. She knew of SeafarerHelp because the team had assisted her husband some years before with a contract dispute. The SeafarerHelp Officer, who was trained in emotional support and counselling skills, was able to calm her and assure her that the team would stay in close contact, sending any important updates as soon as they became available. Crucially, the SeafarerHelp Officer stressed how important it was that she did not speak to the media as it could delay any negotiations and the crew’s release. Over the following few days, the team reiterated this advice as she began to receive multiple calls and messages from journalists asking about her husband’s capture. The team remained in regular contact with the seafarer’s wife, particularly at times when she was most distressed, and ensured she was able to access the welfare support available to her locally.

The situation became tense during the period of captivity when threats were made to the crew by the pirates as the ship was being surrounded by the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF). Thankfully, the crew were released after a few days without a ransom being paid, but the efforts of the SeafarerHelp team did not end there. Understandably, the seafarers’ families were extremely anxious to get them home so the weeks in between their release and return home were a worrying time for everyone. The SeafarerHelp team was readily available throughout this time to answer the numerous queries they received about updates on the crew’s return date, and about compensation owed to them for loss of earnings and belongings during the attack.

On 12th April, Chirag Bahri confirmed the crew was homeward-bound and contacted the team to relay the crew’s heartfelt gratitude for the support offered by SeafarerHelp. Recognising the extreme impact of a case such as this, the team contacted all crew members (once they were safely home) to inform them of some important information related to their case and to let them know of the emotional support available to them and their families. The team stressed that SeafarerHelp is available to assist and support the crew any time of day or night, and they were extremely thankful.

Read 955 times Last modified on Tuesday, 06 June 2017 12:16