It was a providential escape for 10 seafarers who were stranded at seas on board mv Al Manara, a cargo ship. Capt. T. K. Ashokan, Commanding Officer of INS Sarvekshak — a survey ship of the Indian Navy — rescued them from the jaws of death.Alas, the life of poor merchant seaman.
While flying over the cargo ship, Capt. Ashokan spotted a placard that read khana nahin hai (we have no food) scribbled on it. The cargo ship was owned by an Iraqi and normally operated between the United Arab Emirates and Somalia. The ship had sailed from Fujayrah, UAE, to Busaso, Somalia, with general cargo, including sugar, timber and cooking oil. This was unloaded and charcoal was loaded from Bravo, another port at Somalia. However, the ship did not leave Bravo after the owner refused to provide the crew with fuel, spares and provisions.
To compound the situation, the owner of the cargo posted three gunmen to guard the stuff. They, the rescued seamen said, soon started behaving like pirates and a couple of them were injured when the gunmen opened fire at them.
The ship sailed on January 26, after it was supplied 40 tonnes of fuel. Worse was in store for the 20-member crew and their captain as the engines failed at sea and the ship started drifting, with little food or water on board.
A boarding party from a passing U.S. Ship released the crew by disarming the gunmen and locking up the latter in a compartment onboard. Food was provided at sea by two U.S. naval ships and a container vessel.
The ship drifted for around 25 days, before it entered the Seychelles waters by putting up a makeshift sail secured to the deck cranes. Once in Seychelles' territory, the ship was towed to Port Victoria by the Seychelles Port Authority on February 11 and the crew were staying there till INS Sarvekshak sailed in.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Gunmen, a bad ship owner, a broken engineering plant and more, all on one small cargo ship as reported here: