Friday, August 23, 2019

No News of Eight Crew Abducted by Pirates from 679 TEU Multipurpose Cargo Ship

Hijackers Sneaked Aboard During the Night
Shipping News Feature
CAMEROON – Eight members of the crew of the MarMalaita, the 679 TEU multi-purpose cargo vessel operated by the Hamburg based company MC Schiffahrt and attacked by pirates during the night of August 14, are still being held by their captors. Four of the crew remained on board after the criminal gang sneaked aboard just before midnight and hijacked the crew whilst she was at anchorage in Douala. The company issued a statement saying:

“A group of pirates boarded the vessel and abducted eight of our 12 crew members from the vessel. We have assembled our emergency response team and are doing [our] utmost to deal with the case, in cooperation with all relevant authorities and crew managers. Our thoughts reach out to the concerned families and we will take all efforts to support and assist them until the seafarers safely return back home. All respective authorities have been informed accordingly and we will fully cooperate with them until the case is resolved.”

The 10,600 dwt vessel sails under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda and, as well as her container carrying capacity, has two onboard cranes, each with a lift capacity of 60 tonnes. The vessel has continued on her voyage to Luanda, Angola with a replacement crew. Deacon John Archer, the Stella Maris port chaplain in the US port of Mobile for Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea, spoke out on the incident, saying:

“It’s shocking to hear that the crew of the MarMalaita are still being held captive after the ship had been attacked. The vessel was in Mobile for a few months running between Mexico and Mobile and I got to know the Chief Cook during their short visits to Mobile and I knew they were heading to the coast of Africa.’

“I’d been on board the ship a number of times when it had visited the port of Mobile, Alabama. On my last visit I did what I usually do, such as asking the crew if they wanted to visit the town, go shopping, or offer to shop for those unable to go shore due to visa restrictions.”

The crew members who have been abducted come from Russia, the Philippines and Ukraine, and Paul Rosenblum, Stella Maris North America regional coordinator commented:

”This kidnapping highlights the high price that can be paid by seafarers when things go wrong. This tragedy is a reminder of the dangers seafarers face each day to bring us the various goods and food we rely on.”

Photo: The MarMalaita in her previous incarnation as the Thorco Conquest before she was acquired by her present owners in 2014.