Day of the Seafarer 25 June

The world’s leading shipping associations have highlighted the inequality seafarers face as hostages.

“The world would be outraged if four airliners were seized and held hostage with innocent souls onboard. Regrettably, there does not seem to be the same response or concern for the four commercial vessels and their crews being held hostage,” states an open letter sent by 16 shipping organisations last month to the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres.

IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez stated, “The plight of the seafarers affected by these incidents must not be forgotten and it is incumbent upon us to pursue every available avenue to secure their safe return to their loved ones and their livelihoods,” adding “International shipping must not be targeted and used as a means of exerting pressure in geopolitical crises. And I call on you here to continue your efforts to return to normalcy and for ships and seafarers to continue doing their work without threats and interruptions”.


Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy hijacked a containership belonging to an affiliate of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime and operated by Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) near the Strait of Hormuz. The 15,000 TEU MSC Aries has since been taken to Iranian waters where it is anchored near three other ships Iran has seized in recent months. They are the tankers Advantage Sweet, Niovi and St. Nikolas.

Although reports indicate that the MSC Aries’s multinational crew are being well treated intensive diplomatic efforts by the countries involved, including India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Portugal and Russia were ongoing to secure their release. MSC added their voice to the discussion about securing the crew’s release whist also negotiating the discharging of the cargo onboard the ship which was being held in the Khuran Straits close to the three seized oil tankers.

Meanwhile, an NYK-operated car carrier, the Galaxy Leader, remains in Yemeni waters, having been hijacked six months ago by the Houthis, while off the Horn of Africa. Somali pirates have resumed their ransom tactics, abducting two ships in recent months.

“Innocent seafarers have been killed; seafarers are being held hostage. This would be unacceptable on land, and it is unacceptable at sea,” the letter to the UN boss warned, demanding the UN body create an enhanced co-ordinated military presence, missions, and patrols in the region and that all efforts possible are brought to bear to release the many seafarers currently being held hostage in the Middle East.



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