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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs