News / Asia

India Arrests Crew of US-Owned Anti-Piracy Ship

Image made from video shows U.S.-owned ship MV Seaman Ohio detained at the Tuticorin port in Tamil Nadu, India. Indian police said they are questioning the crew of the ship accused of illegally transporting weapons and ammunition in Indian waters, Oct. 13
Image made from video shows U.S.-owned ship MV Seaman Ohio detained at the Tuticorin port in Tamil Nadu, India. Indian police said they are questioning the crew of the ship accused of illegally transporting weapons and ammunition in Indian waters, Oct. 13
VOA News
Indian police have arrested at least 33 crew members of a detained U.S.-owned anti-piracy ship for carrying weapons in Indian waters without proper permits.

The crew was arrested Friday in the southern port of Tuticorin.

Indian Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh said the crew was arrested after failing to produce documents allowing them to carry the weapons.

"The vessel was stopped by our coast guard in consideration of issues relating to the presence of arms, ammunition, and armed guards on board without the necessary authorization.  The crew and guards are currently cooperating with the police investigations that are ongoing in Tamil Nadu [state].  Cases have been filed with regards to the Arms Act and the Essential Commodities Act Basic information on this case has been shared in routine course with U.S. Embassy representatives," said Singh.

The Sierra Leone-flagged ship, Seaman Guard Ohio, was escorted to Tuticorin last week with a crew of British, Estonian, Indian and Ukrainian nationals.  It belongs to AdvanFort, a U.S.-based maritime security firm.

AdvanFort President William Watson told VOA the arms and ammunition on board were licensed and meant for anti-piracy missions in the eastern Indian Ocean.  He said as soon as the ship was stopped, its captain produced documents showing the weapons were properly licensed.

Watson also said the Seaman Guard Ohio was operating outside Indian territorial waters (12 nautical miles, 13.8 statute miles, 22.2 kilometers)  when it was detained.  He said, however, it moved closer than normal to India's shore because of the treacherous waters caused by Cyclone Phailin.

“It was outside the 12-mile limit.  Now in some cases India seeks to project its authority throughout its exclusive economic zone which of course goes out much further than the 12-mile limit.  I’m not a maritime or admiralty attorney, but my understanding is that seizing a vessel outside the 12-mile limit is inappropriate," said Watson.

An Indian defense and strategic affairs analyst, Bharat Verma, said the coast guard would not have detained the ship if it were outside Indian waters.

"If the ship is within our waters of 12 nautical miles and without permission, then to arrest the ship's crew and capture the ship is absolutely legitimate.  Now the coast guard which escorted the ship to the shore, knows this law.  So it appears that the ship was inside the waters," said Verma.

Watson said at the time it was stopped, the Seaman Guard Ohio was being refueled by another vessel in international waters.  He called that fuel purchase "lawful and legal."

"The Indian coast guard came out and asked us to come in to port because apparently they were conducting an investigation of fuel transfer issues, and when we went into port of course because we had the weapons on board they sought to audit those weapons.  Our understanding from the authority team that came on board was that they found all of our papers to be in order," he said.

In a statement Friday, AdvanFort played down the ship's seizure.  The company instead thanked Indian authorities for allowing the Seaman Guard Ohio to refuel and escape Phailin, India's strongest cyclone in 14 years.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: rob from: at sea-indian ocean bound
October 23, 2013 8:40 AM
India is a logistics and paperwork nightmare. I sailed out of an Indian port for 4 months aboard a U. S.Navy owned research vessel. bribes and mountains of paperwork were the norm-had to make work for the rubber stamp man. All the ports we use to visit in the Indian Ocean are now pirate waters. I would rather have these guys escorting us through dangerous waters rather than having to rely on fire hoses against pirates with ak47 and rpg.

by: t subaskaran from: india
October 21, 2013 7:56 PM
Any way , when the weapons are on board the government should explore it s legality. The reagon should be free of terrorism. The advant fort having bad track records on in properly and illegally business in the same industry with arms for the sake of money. This causing severe threat to regional and global security.

by: Jay from: Mohan
October 19, 2013 3:24 AM
Source (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/09/sea-mercs-gun-laws/)As it turns out, the ship-protection biz is rife with risk, of the diplomatic and AK-47-wielding variety. Carrying guns aboard commercial ships has the potential to cause all kinds of legal problems.British sea-merc company Protection Vessels International found this out the hard way in December, when four of its guards stopped for fuel in Eritrea while sailing to a scheduled ship-protection gig off Somalia. Eritrean officials detained all four men and accused them of plotting “acts of terrorism and sabotage” against the impoverished nation.They are lucky they stopped for fuel in Eritrea, instead of the US, because if they stopped in the US they would be in Federal prison for nearly a decade and there would be nothing their employer could do about it.I wonder how they even possess these weapons for training or storage in the UK, or if they store them in some other country.

by: Filldaddy from: Texas
October 18, 2013 1:55 PM
Ahhh. First rule to Indian paperwork is to have dead leaders and security features printed on the "paperwork" for govt agents. Preferably in high denominations, multiple copies of this imprinted paper yield additional ease in passing inspections.

I guess the captain and crew didn't pay off the right people or produce enough "paperwork" to satisfy the "coast guard's" needs.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs