Seafarer held captive by pirates takes employer to court in landmark case

A seafarer in the US is suing Edison Chouest Offshore and Galliano Marine Services for injuries suffered during a 2011 piracy incident.

Wren Thomas’s suit states that despite repeated episodes of international piracy involving its vessels and crews off the West Africa coast since 2011, the defendants failed to adequately protect its employees at sea, despite employees allegedly being attacked, brutally treated and kidnapped.

Thomas was the master onboard the C-Retriever which was attacked off the Nigerian coast in October 2011. Thomas said he had complained to his employers prior to the attack about his ship’s vessel age, slowness and rather obsolete anti-piracy protection.

When captured Thomas and his crew were held captive and tortured for 18 days.

The landmark case is taking place at the US District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Were Thomas to win, shipowners the world over could be in for a welter of similar actions.

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.
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