Seaman on Hijacked Vessel Dies

The news media has focused intensely on the Carnival Splendor incident this week. Lost in all those stories has been the news that a seaman on a United Arab Emirates-flagged vessel that had been hijacked by Somali pirates seven months ago, has died of malnutrition. The vessel, the MV Iceberg I was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden in March by a group of 50 pirates. The ship had been carrying generators and fuel, and once it was hijacked, the name of the vessel was repainted to the Sea Express. The ship was then taken to Kulub in Somalia. The vessel is owned by Dubai-based Azal Shipping. There were 23 crew members on board from Yemen, India, Canada, Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines. The seaman who died was believed to be a Yemeni national. He had been suffering from severe malnutrition, and died this week. According to spokesmen for the shipping company, the seaman's death was a combination of both malnutrition and distress. The man had been under severe emotional stress over the past few days, and in fact, only recently tried to kill himself. The other crew members are also believed to be suffering from malnutrition. Seven months after the vessel was hijacked, the crew has run short of food and water. They're also completely out of medicine and generator fuel. The shipping company is calling for the pirates to allow a medical doctor on board the vessel. The company is currently in negotiations with pirates, but is not willing to pay the ransom that the pirates have demanded. This incident should serve as a reminder that across the globe, there are dozens of vessels and hundreds of seaman that still continue to be held by pirates. With each day that these people are held hostage, their chances of surviving decline. Maritime lawyer Brian Beckcom is a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer whose primary focus is the representation of Jones Act seamen, including tankermen, galley hands, deckhands, cruise line crews, fishing vessel crew members, offshore workers and other maritime workers in accidents in Texas, across the country and international waters. Image Courtesy: flickr – ahmedrabea

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