Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hebei Spirit Officers Jailed

Captain Jasprit Chawla (right) and Chief Officer Syam Chetan (left).

The Captain and the Chief Mate of the Hebei Spirit have been jailed: From Sea Trade Asia Online:
“This is not justice. It’s not even something close,” said ITF Maritime Coordinator Stephen Cotton. “What we have seen today is scapegoating, criminalisation and a refusal to consider the wider body of evidence that calls into question the propriety of the court. This decision is incomprehensibly vindictive and will impact on all professional mariners
The VLCC Hebei Spirit was anchored when it was struck and holed by a crane barge. The resulting oil spill was South Korea's worse ever Wikipediea article here.

Monitor coverage here Black out - On purpose.

Update: Wall Street Journal coverage here

Dutch Harbor Container Pier (1992)Container handling equipment

I recall being on watch on a container ship in Dutch Harbor several years back. It was raining hard and the water under the pier was covered with an oil sheen. The sheen was a result of oil contaminated run-off from the pier. The source of the oil was leaking hydraulic and engine oil from equipment used on the pier, trucks and so forth. It happens in every port and in fact every parking lot when it rains after a dry spell.

I was walking up the deck when a longshoreman stopped me and with great indignation told me that the ship was pumping oil into the water and she planned to report us to the Coast Guard. It took a few minutes but after I pointed out how much oil was on the pier she was finally satisfied that the oil was in fact coming from the pier.

When she realized the source of the oil was shore side her anger evaporated. She could have still reported the oil to the Coast Guard but of course did not.

People ashore have to work for their employers, live with their neighbors. There is little to be gained and much to be lost by causing trouble. By contrast mariners are outsiders, there will be no local protest when they are fined, hauled off to jail or other wise treated unjustly. Mariners make convenient targets for anger and are easy to scapegoat. It is important for the maritime community as a whole to speak out against the unjust treatment of the Captain and Chief Officer of the Hebei Spirit.

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