MV Seaman Guard Ohio

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Seaman Guard Ohio Vessel.JPG
MV Seaman Guard Ohio photographed at Singapore, July 2012
History
Owner: AdvanFort
Port of registry: Freetown, Sierra Leone
Builder: Narasaki Shipbuilding, Muroran, Japan
Yard number: 1064
Completed: 1984
Identification:
General characteristics
Tonnage:
Length: 45.93 metres (150.7 ft)
Beam: 7.32 metres (24.0 ft)
Installed power: 2800 bhp

The MV Seaman Guard Ohio is a floating armory ship[1] owned by AdvanFort and used for storing weapons and security guards on private anti-piracy contracts.[2] In October 2013, the ship was impounded and the crew and armed guards aboard were detained after it entered Indian waters with illegal arms without adequate permission.[3]

Ship[edit]

The MV Seaman Guard Ohio is a Sierra Leone (flag of convenience)-flagged former fishery patrol vessel (Call Sign: 9LA2125, IMO: 8410691, MMSI: 667004026) owned and operated by AdvanFort, a Virginia (USA) based private maritime security company that provides commercial anti-piracy protection services to merchant vessels.[4][5] The vessel is equipped with a wide array of directive and omnidirectional radio-communications sensors including numerous VHF, UHF, HF and satellite communications antennae, maritime radars and satellite navigation systems.[6]

The ship was built for Hokkaido Prefecture by Narasaki Shipbuilding of Muroran, Japan, and was originally named the Kaio Maru. In May 2011 she was renamed Timor Navigator, and in January 2012 Seaman Guard Ohio.[7]

History[edit]

Interception by Indian Coast Guard[edit]

The MV Seaman Guard Ohio was intercepted on 12 October 2013 beyond the ICC CSS High Risk Area and within Indian Customs Waters by ICGS Naiki Devi. The vessel was escorted to the V.O. Chidambaranar Port in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin).[8] The 10 crew and 25 guards were interrogated by a federal multi-agency joint investigation team comprising members of the Indian Coast Guard, Indian Navy, Customs, Research and Analysis Wing and the Q Branch of India's Intelligence Bureau.[9][10][11]

On 10 July 2014, a judge of the Madras High Court dismissed the charges against the crew and armed guards, while reaffirming that the captain and the fuel vendor were liable to punishment for the ship's being refueled with subsidized diesel fuel.[12][13]

On 1 July 2015, the Indian Supreme Court heard an appeal filed by the CID ‘Q’ Branch police against the 2014 judgement by the Madras High Court. Supreme Court Bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and Abhay Manohar Sapre set aside the High Court's decision as “illegal and erroneous.” explaining that “The very fact that huge quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from the possession of the crew members from the vessel and they were unable to satisfy their legal possession over such arms/ammunition is sufficient to attract the provisions of Arms Act,”.[14] The Supreme Court ordered the Tuticorin District Principal Sessions Court to complete the trial of the case and give its judgment within six months.[15]

On 11 January 2016, judge of Tuticorin District Principal Sessions Court sentenced all the 10 crew and 25 guards to undergo 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 3000 each.[16][17]

On 27 November 2017 six British former soldiers (Nick Dunn from Ashington, Northumberland; Billy Irving from Connel, Argyll; Ray Tindall from Chester; Paul Towers from Pocklington, East Yorkshire; John Armstrong from Wigton, Cumbria; and Nicholas Simpson from Catterick, North Yorkshire) who had been imprisoned following arrest and detention in 2013 were once more acquitted, as were the 29 others arrested and detained with them. While the court's ruling is that all charges against the men be dropped, that they should be released from custody with immediate effect and the fines already paid be refunded the authorities have not yet indicated whether or not they are minded to challenge their second acquittal, accordingly they still remain in custody.[18][19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MSC 95th session meeting documents". IMO (International Maritime Organisation). IMO, London. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  2. ^ "IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 836 OF 2015 (Arising out of S.L.P.(Crl.)No. 7082 of 2014)" (PDF). supremecourtofindia.nic.in. Supreme Court of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Police Arrests Crew of detained US Ship Seaman Guard Ohio". Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Seaman Guard Ohio". Marine Traffic. 12 October 2013.
  5. ^ Amanda Hodge (16 October 2013). "India seizes US mercenary ship". The Australian.
  6. ^ Bhaskar Balakrishnan (24 October 2013). "Rogue vessels in Indian waters". The Hindu Business Line. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ "Seaman Guard Ohio - 8410691 - Patrol Vessel" (pdf). Maritime Connector. Retrieved October 22, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Arms-laden US ship in Tuticorin: No clear answers yet". News X. 15 October 2013. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013.
  9. ^ "Ship with armed guards detained in Indian waters". The Hindu. 13 October 2013.
  10. ^ "US ship with armed guards detained at Tuticorin; no papers authorising possession of arms". NDTV. 13 October 2013.
  11. ^ "India seizes armed anti-piracy ship owned by US security firm". Times of India. 13 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Madras high court quashes criminal case against crew of US ship". Times of India. 10 July 2014.
  13. ^ "HC quashes invoking of Arms Act registered against crew of US". Business Standard. 10 July 2014.
  14. ^ "SC demands truth about mystery ship". The Hindu. 5 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Framing of charges in armed vessel case on August 24". The Hindu. 24 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Five-year jail terms for crew, guards of US ship". business-standard. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  17. ^ "Five-year RI for 35 U.S. ship crew members". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  18. ^ "Appeals of US anti-piracy ship crew: Madras HC to pass order on Nov 27". Times of India. 2017-11-20. Retrieved 2017-11-27..cms
  19. ^ "Jailed Britons win India appeal". BBC News. 2017-11-27. Retrieved 2017-11-27.