Middle EastOperationsPiracy

Same armed guard who took Eagle Bulk crew hostage takes over another vessel

The armed guard who held the crew of the Eagle Bulk controlled Jaeger supramax last month has done it again.

The Ukrainian, who worked for private maritime security company (PMSC) Alphard, this week broke into the armoury onboard the Golden Palm, operated by Spain’s Palm Charters, and took the crew hostage again in his fight over back pay.

Splash understands that the tense standoff between the guard and the crew onboard the Golden Palm, which serves as a floating armoury and is currently in the Red Sea, has now been resolved.

Splash reported how the same man had taken over an Eagle Bulk ship for three days last month. He was one of three men who had been employed as security for a Red Sea transit.

The Jaeger case prompted James Wilkes from Grey Page to write a column for Splash earlier this month about the dire financial situation of many PMSCs.

“At the micro-level, an armed-guard, ostensibly driven out of his mind by desperation, lost the plot and hijacked a ship for three days,” Wilkes wrote of last month’s hostage taking, adding: “In mitigation perhaps, five months-plus stuck at sea, without pay and no prospect of relief can evidently drive a person beyond the edge.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

Comments

  1. You would have thought that what he did the first time was a sackable offence…

    1. Yes one would think .. but as he works for ALPHARD the worst Company operating..they left him stranded on the floating armoury. He has not been paid in 5 months and no way to get home …. desperate times desperate measures

  2. Taking over a ship at sea from its legal Master and officers is classified as piracy, no matter what the reason behind it, he was clearly a desperate man in desperate times who wants to get paid and go home and see his family.

  3. Sam Chambers, the Gulf of Guinea is on the West side of Africa. The reported event here took place on the other side. As to the “dire financial situation” of PMSC’s, first and foremost they need licensing and regulating. This will drive the rogue operators out of the market. The rationale of your friend from Gray Page is illogical. He wants to get Rolls-Royce rates, but he isn’t saying what portion he will be paying back to his armed personnel. It is not about how much the company charges shipowners for protecting their ships, but it is about what portion of that charges the company pays back to their personnel and what porting the company keep for themselves. He “explained” that armed personnel accepting to work on the current low wages are inherently unreliable, untrained and potentially dangerous of going rogue (as the one here did). Mind you, I said it before, and I will say it again, he went rogue NOT because his wages were low, but because his wages were NOT paid. There is a HUGE difference. As one other reader commented here before me “The first offence was on the company”. Shipowners will not budge to ill intended attempts to be milked by smooth operators, using pretexts like this one.

    1. Georgi.
      Just so we are clear:
      (1) My company is not a PMSC.;
      (2) We have no financial interest whatsoever in the provision of armed guards;
      (3) I am not advocating ‘profiteering’ by PMSCs at the expense of ship operators;
      (4) I am not advocating that PMSC’s profit by not paying PSCASPs properly and when due;
      (5) I am questioning what standard of service ship operators think they are getting when they pay only a few thousand dollars / transit;
      (6) I am challenging the fallacy that PMSC’s can offer services at incredibly low rates without compromising quality, safety and legal standards somewhere in their operations; and
      (7) I am exposing what many of us know to be true, that there are MSO’s that have been stuck on vessel-based armouries for months now, without pay, the prospect of relief and in some cases pretty squalid conditions.

      1. he works for ALPHARD they left him stranded on the floating armoury. He has not been paid in 5 months and no way to get home …. desperate times desperate measures

  4. I’ve worked in the Marsec industry for nearly 10 years I’d love to be interviewed to show the decline in the service, treatment, equipment and salary, I have so many photos showing the absolute disgusting conditions we all had to put up with

    1. SAM WILL PRINT THEM NAME THE SHIP NAME THE COMPANY
      STAND UP AND B COUNTED. ALSO SEND TO IMO. TRADEWINDS.. MORE THE MERRIER.

    2. The same goes for me also if the Company named is correct I did over 50 different vessels as a team leader for this company, the reason I left, as they know from having many discussions with them, all documented, was the fact they continually re employed guards who were taken off ships and sent home due to the fact they should never have been on a vessel in the first place. Also non speaking English with fake certification. I am surprised it too so long for something like this to happen.

  5. “The armed guard who held the crew of the Eagle Bulk controlled Jaeger supramax last month has done it again”
    Has done it again??!. Surely that’s the big question that needs answered here. How did he end up in a position to be able to “do it again”?
    Was there no action taken against him re his act of piracy last month? . Not by the authorities, the owners and managers of the Eagle Bulk, nor his employers.
    If I was still at sea , or had family at sea , I would be very concerned about how and why this gentleman is allowed to board ships , armed and ready, under the pretext of being there to protect the ship and her crew.

  6. This is what happens with the maritime security companies that offer the lowest prices. They usually don’t pay their personnel, the agents, and suppliers. So one-day the way they do business is exposed. . There many examples of companies that used to get a big piece of the pie and in one night suspended operations, GOAGT, Patriot etc

  7. This is a photo of the Sultan so unless a name change happened??? It is however also a floating armoury which was deployed in the red sea against piracy. I was employed by a shareholder called Mauricio who drowned during my contract and I was never fully paid either. I was dropped of in the hands of Dolphin in Djibouti after a fiasco with a vessel which was destroyed in a storm before I could take it to the port of Sudan.

  8. Unfortunately the industry decided many years ago to dive to the bottom. The result has been ship owners and managers, themselves in difficult financial positions, choosing price #1. The “pirating” of Aegean II highlights this. The self proclaimed, regulated, leader in th PMSC marketplace becomes the first casualty. First ship taken with armed guards.
    Q: Who were the MSOs? For all the regulations within the industry, it counts for absolutely nothing.
    You pay peanuts you get monkeys (allegedly regulated
    Monkeys, but monkeys nonetheless). Go figure on your way to the bottom of the pond.

  9. US-NATO should change its mind and protect trade routes with the Navy. Destroyers, patrol boats, frigates, … where are they?

  10. The “elephant in the room” is not how much the guards are being paid. the finger has to be pointed to 2 parties:
    1. PMSCs that do not vet/ensure/train their guards prior joining and ongoing, while onboard
    2. Flag states and Insurance UW who has zero control, zero enforcement and unfortunately, zero interest on the performance level of the employed armed guards, and their management staff

    Guards’ salary is not the key to ensure high performance. Training, management, quality control, continues improvement – are the keys. though, if there is no common standard & no enforcement – there is no way that a ship owner will “voluntarily” pay higher than its competitors.

    The incidents onboard both ships are criminal offenses / piracy act. no question about it. I am pretty sure that the guard will be facing the legal consequences at the first port he will get to. though, what is going to happen with the PMSC who employed him? Does the company hold no responsibility, legal and financial? Is the company still maintaining the ISO certificates? Insurance coverage? Weapon license??! from reading above – this is not the first time that guards are not being paid, and being abused by their employer. that couldn’t happen in land, could it? and that goes back to my first two points – its not about the pay level, It is about international standard and enforcement.

  11. This is yet another symptom of **the** wider issue in shipping. Simple arithmetic is that there are too many ships chasing too few cargoes and historically the market has accepted delayed freight and so on as a feature of the low rate environment we’ve all supposed to have been adapting to for the last few years. If you play in the lower end of the markets then you get paid late. I’m credit manager for a bunker company and we see it all too clearly – shippers only paying freight (eventually) or charterers only paying hire (eventually) when pushed (legally in many cases) because their margin is so low that paying their debts off what they have earned is considered optional in many cases.

    At the bottom end of the market, rates are low so shipping companies want longer and longer terms to settle their bunker bills and the oversupplied and saturated bunker market is only too happy to oblige as it too is stuck in a low rate (margin) environment. We don’t cover our risk, we barely cover our costs on most deals. Elsewhere at the bottom end, crews don’t get paid if the voyage doesn’t make money. Class/flag organisations don’t enforce rules and vital maintenance isn’t done in some cases as there isn’t enough money to do it. Lives are lost because of this. So when the onus is on shipping companies to pay for armed guards in sensitive areas, then there isn’t any money for anyone who charges a reasonable rate to do a reasonable job. They go with the cheapest possible cowboy outfit. So this sort of thing is what happens. Operators don’t get paid as the shipping company hasn’t paid the PMC, and the PMC has little to no recourse against an offshore brass plate with no provable links to the ownership of the vsl. It is the guards who do the work who miss out.

    As with many things in life – the shipping companies want everything but will not pay for everything they want and cannot pay for everything they need. At the bottom end, someone always loses out in this case of high seas musical chairs when there is not enough money generated by the vessel’s voyage to pay for everything the vessel needs. Sometimes it is the owner who misses out, sometimes the bunker company. Other times it is the crew, or the PMC operators in this case. Other times the charterer disappears with everyone’s money and everyone loses out or the shipper just doesn’t pay freight and disappears.

    For as long as we all continue to kid ourselves that building more ships is the answer to everything, there will be more ships than cargoes and that means eventually, at the bottom end of the market, that people are not going to be paid for the work they do and the services they provide.

    As others have said, flag states are compelled to push their shipowners to do better, but they are commercial organisations who compete with others so we cannot expect radical action from them. Shipowners can do better vetting and not fix to charterers who may not pay, but they are commercial organisations who need to keep the lights on too and an idle vessel waiting for a blue chip charterer is a money pit. Bunker companies can be more transparent and vet their customers better, do more on the credit side not to offer credit to companies that are not earning enough from their operations to pay everyone. But again, there is a commercial imperative there and you cannot only do business with the Maersks of this world.

    So we all battle on hoping it isn’t us that gets shafted, and turn a blind eye to the ones who sadly always seem to be left without a chair when the music runs out and the money stops – the crews and their support functions, of which armed guards are one.

  12. I am more concerned that all this article and comments are very blasé and completly justifying this gentleman’s illegal and premeditated decision to commit an acts of piracy!!! We need to see know which country/flag he is going to be charged in for these criminal actions..
    At the end of the day, it is the market dictating prices. Anyone in this industry had a ship owner/operator ask for a higher price from any maritime service? Or only a reduction to match the “going rate”

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