Tuesday, October 15, 2013

As Somali Pirates Back in the Headlines Security Group Advanfort Says Thanks after Phailin

With the Feature Film of the Maersk Alabama Incident at the Box Office Guards Dodge the Typhoon
Shipping News Feature

INDIAN OCEAN – We wrote four years ago quoting Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama thanking his rescuers as he collected a ‘Mariner of the Year award’ and continuing on to say, ‘We have to have some arms on the ships’, after his rescue from Somali pirates, to whom he had surrendered, fearing for the safety of his crew. Now, maritime personnel from AdvanFort, one of those now legally supplying just such protection, have cause to thank their own saviours in turn.

The Seaman Guard Ohio, is an Operator Support Vessel that provides an accommodation platform for AdvanFort’s counter-piracy guards between transits on client commercial vessels passing through the High Risk Area. With the rapid onset of Typhoon Phailin, which has caused the evacuation of over half a million people due to its severity, the Ohio was forced to beg for sanctuary in the port of Tuticorin (now the V.O.Chidambaram Port Trust), not an easy favour for the authorities to grant given that the ship was carrying a number of privately contracted armed security personnel of diverse nationalities, plus the various paraphernalia associated with their trade.

Despite the fact the vessel was laden with uniforms, protective equipment, medical kits, rifles and ammunition, all of which is properly registered and licensed to AdvanFort, to equip the guards who hailed from countries as diverse as the UK, Estonia, Ukraine and India, the responsible authorities allowed the vessel to take shelter unhindered, prompting praise for the port officials at Tuticorin and the Tamil Nadu police and causing William H. Watson, president of AdvanFort, to comment:

“I want to personally thank the Indian government for offering a safe harbour during this typhoon to the crew of our good vessel Ohio. We look forward to returning this vessel to its duties as quickly as formalities and resupply operations are concluded.”

Now danger has passed and, as is routine in such matters, Indian authorities are auditing the vessel’s records during the port stay while supplies, provisions and fuel are being transferred to the Ohio. Advanfort were keen to stress that these men and this vessel provide protection to commercial mariners, including Indian nationals, against piracy attack and have done so for nearly five years.

With Advanfort pointing out that every minute lost in port places seafarers in more harm the crew and guards are remaining aboard their ship during its port stay and are reportedly well and receiving fresh food and water. Meanwhile Captain Phillips is once again in the public eye as details of his ordeal appear on the silver screen doubtless ably enacted by Tom Hanks.

Photo: Courtesy AdvanFort