THE CHAIN LOCKER
If you've read many previous posts on this blog, you know the sad saga of MV ICEBERG (click "Iceberg 1" in the Categories list to the right of the page). Hijacked only 10 miles into her voyage from Aden to Jebel Ali on 29 March 2010, she's been held captive ever since - 118 miserable weeks - the longest-captive crew in the brutal history of Somali piracy. 

Her original crew of 24 has been diminished by two since then: first, her Yemeni 3rd officer, suffering from malnutrition and psychological problems, committed suicide by jumping overboard on 27 October 2010. His body was recovered and stored in the ship's freezer - but since the ship had only sporadic generator capability, this can't have been a good situation. The ship's owner declined to help. Second, on 9 February 2011 her Chief Engineer was taken away by armed men to an undisclosed location, after the crew had been threatened with execution if the owner failed to pay ransom. His current status is unknown.

MV ICEBERG's crew have been beaten, abused, and deprived of adequate food, clean water and medical treatment. In December last year some of the crew were reportedly taken ashore due to illness, but to my knowledge this is unconfirmed. The ship may be in bad shape, too - one report had her taking water in the engine room. She's been without supplies and maintenance for a long time.

The saddest thing is that their condition has been ignored not only by their shipping company, but also substantially by their respective governments: those of Yemen, India, Ghana, Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines. I've read very little about concrete action taken to release the men, though rumors of talks and impending release have swirled sporadically. That just adds to the torture the men's families must be feeling.

See this link to a video from IBN Live in which Diraj Tiwari, MV ICEBERG's Chief Mate, tells of the crew's despair. Check the date: that video was taken 15 months ago!

Somalia Report has tracked the situation since the beginning, and posted this timeline and summary on 26 June. It's an excellent wrapup of developments to date, and has many good links.

MV ICEBERG's owner is reported to be Azal Shipping of Dubai - once said to have gone out of business and unable to negotiate for MV ICEBERG's ransom - but with a current website "under construction" at the link above. When the maritime news site gCaptain called the number listed on the site, they got no answer. Another story is that Azal Shipping is a front for the real owner, Saeed Mohamed Qali, currently held at Guantanamo Bay. In any case, the ship's owners have been unable or unwilling to provide a ransom, or even to assist the captives in any way. 

At the top of the post see a video trailer for an upcoming documentary about MV ICEBERG's plight, being made by Neil Bell for Rabotat Films. I hope it will draw attention to this unconscionable situation - I hope that it enables people outside the maritime world to put themselves in these men's shoes! 

As seamen, we can help generate pressure to save MV ICEBERG's crew. Please track the progress of the upcoming documentary, tweet and link to posts and news about MV ICEBERG, spread the word to friends and family. Bring the murky, largely ignored saga of this ship and her miserable crew out of the shadows and into the spotlight. You can help them if you act!