Oct 192008

Pirates are not the only ones to seize seafarers and hold them for ransom. Egypt is holding a ship’s master as a hostage, threatening up to three years imprisonment unless a rather imaginative assessment of damages caused when the his vessel struck an Egyptian navy ship. BIMCO has released the following details and request::

“A BIMCO member has reported a recent incident and has asked that we make other members aware of the potential risks of the detention of seafarers and inflated claims in certain parts of the world.

Following a collision with an Egyptian navy vessel, a vessel belonging to the above member has been arrested and the Master imprisoned in Port Said.  A claim, which appears to be excessive given the age of the navy vessel in question and which is based on a joint survey in which only the member’s P&I Club representative was allowed to participate, has been presented by the Egyptian navy.  It appears that no charges have been proffered against the Master, but he remains under arrest with no imminent prospect of release.  Reports so far suggest that he may be imprisoned for up to 3 years or more unless the claim is settled.

The unreasonable or unlawful detention of seafarers is an ongoing problem which the shipping industry is striving to address.  BIMCO is currently updating its 2006 Study of recent cases on Criminal Sanctions towards Seafarers to establish how widespread the problem is and to explore the extent of incidents that are not as widely reported in the media as, for instance, the Coral Sea and the Hebei Spirit have been.  If members have any incidents to report, please contact international@bimco.org.  All responses will be dealt with in confidence if so requested.”

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