The 73,000-ton tanker, MT Polar, which was hijacked some 600 miles of the coast of Somalia, 0n October 30, 2010, was released early today on Friday, although its location was identified. Paradise Navigation SA, the vessel's Athens-based owner and operator, offered no details of the conditions of the ship's and crew's release, but made it very clear that the vessel was left to its own devices to deal with the pirates, despite frequent patrols by the navy ships of various countries in the region.
COMMENT: The MT POLAR had a crew of 24 when it was seized and taken control of in 2010, although one of its crew members had a serious stroke and died while in captivity. In announcing the vessel's release, Paradise Navigation had strong words for the shipping industry: "It is a sad indictment of the international initiatives currently in place that they have proved ineffective in stopping piracy," the company said. "It is also doubtful that the political will exists to effect the necessary initiatives; accordingly the hijacking of vessels such as the POLAR and its use as a 'mother-ship,' attacking global shipping, is likely to continue unabated," its announcement argued.
The crew of the MT POLAR included nationals from the following countries: Romania; Greece; Montenegro; Serbia; and the Philippines.
As I point out in my book, STAYING SAFE ABROAD, reducing the takeover of tankers and other vessels on the high seas is not difficult. It simply requires the use of technology, trained personnel, commitment and the expenditure of the necessary funds. It is foolish for shipping companies permit their crews to become victims of terrorism when it is unnecessary. My question to the shipping industry is: Do you want to make a small investment NOW, or do you want to pay $30 million later? In the end, prompt, proactive executive decisions will demonstrate to vulnerable crews that ship owners and operators actually care.