Stena Oil: Seafarers Imprisoned after Show Trial in São Tomé

marinelink.com
Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Ships and Cargo Wrongfully Confiscated, says Stena.

 

Stena Oil, the Swedish Oil Company, has alleged that the West African republic of São Tomé e Príncipe has wrongfully confiscated two ships chartered by the Swedish oil company Stena Oil, including the cargo. According to Stena, the captains have been severely sentenced to three years of imprisonment and charged with "smuggling" in a show trial. A fine of 5 million EUR has been imposed, and the vessels and cargo have been confiscated by the state of São Tomé. It is Stena Oil's clear and firm position that the allegations are entirely unfounded. Neither the ship owners nor Stena Oil have been given the opportunity by any court to clear the false allegations against them. The São Tomé court has refused to consider evidence that would clearly prove the innocence of all the accused parties, including the captains who have now been imprisoned. After nearly four months, the situation remains unresolved and has thus far cost Stena Oil and the owners of the ships more than 3 million USD.

 

  • STENA’s Prepared Statement Continued, as follows:

 

For nearly four months, the ships and their cargo have been wrongfully detained by the São Tomé authorities. The captains have been imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. They are the victims of an unscrupulous government trying to enrich themselves by confiscating assets from foreign businesses.
 

The situation started on March 15 th 2013 when two ships chartered by Stena Oil were to transfer some equipment and cargo off the coast of São Tomé between themselves. Due to the conditions at sea, the captains made the decision to seek shelter closer to shore, within São Tomé territorial waters. It was simply a matter of safety for the vessels, crew and environment. The coast guard of São Tomé appeared before any transfer had been commenced and records of the radio traffic show that they did not disapprove of the vessels' presence there. Yet both vessels were later boarded and made to move to port, where the captains where forcefully taken ashore for questioning. Vessel documents and crew passports were seized.
 

Despite substantial effort on the part of Stena Oil, the São Tomé authorities refused to explain why they had detained the ships, or on what charges. Five days later, the captains were accused of illegal entry into territorial waters and smuggling. These accusations are unfounded and absurd, as the intended transfer was from one ship chartered by Stena Oil to another. After a perfunctory trial, in which the accused captains were not allowed to present evidence of their innocence, the judgment was passed two weeks later. The captains were to be imprisoned, the ships and cargo confiscated by the State of São Tomé and finally, a fine of 5 million EUR was imposed, to be paid jointly by the two captains, the vessel owners and Stena Oil. The sentence is so abusive and grossly disproportionate that we can only surmise that there are strong ulterior political motives which have prejudiced the local justice system.
 

We have now learned that the São Tomé authorities intend to repatriate the crews of the ships and leave the vessels where they currently reside off shore São Tomé. We strenuously disapprove of this measure, as the consequences of a fully loaded petroleum tanker caught close to shore in bad weather with less than a minimum safety crew may very well prove to become a major ecological disaster. We have of course strongly protested the situation, but the São Tomé authorities have ignored our recommendations.
 

It is imperative that these actions by the government of São Tomé must cease now. Stena Oil has extended every due courtesy to the São Tomé authorities and patiently engaged in discussions with their representatives in order to resolve the situation. We have requested that São Tomé apply relevant national and international maritime law in handling the situation, and we have worked tirelessly for an amicable and reasonable solution. However, to date our efforts have proven fruitless. The measures taken by the São Tomé authorities place them in clear violation of their obligations under international laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Unless the crew (including the two captains), vessels and cargo are immediately released, we will call São Tomé before the International Tribunal to answer for their deeds.
 

Neither Stena Oil, the vessels nor their owners and crew have been involved in any of the illegal actions alleged by São Tomé, including smuggling. In a region where international shipping is suffering daily from the threat of piracy, São Tomé has now introduced a new threat: de facto piracy by a sovereign state in the form of illegal confiscation of ships and cargo. Therefore, we are sharing this information with the international community as a warning for those who are doing business in or near the republic of São Tomé e Príncipe.

Maritime Reporter April 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Bulk Carrier Trends

First Ocean Vessel of 2015 Arrives at Port of Indiana

Northwest Indiana celebrates opening of gateway to global markets   The arrival of the 655-foot bulk carrier M/V Irma at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor signals

Bulk Carrier Grounds in St. Lawrence Seaway

A 621-foot bulk carrier ran aground near Wellesley Island in the St. Lawrence River, Monday. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is responding.   The Bahamian-flagged

Baltic Index Up Slightly on Higher Rates for Large Vessels

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, rose slightly on Monday due to firmer rates for the large vessel segments.

Maritime Security

Delivery Begins for HMS Prince of Wales Bridge

The bridge section of the U.K.’s second Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier has been loaded out of its dock hall in Glasgow ahead of its first sea voyage to Rosyth.

Hull Inspection Systems Delivered to the US Navy

Bluefin Robotics has delivered new vehicles to the U.S. Navy that aim to increase the Navy's capability to remotely search and investigate ship hulls, harbor sea

Risk & Reputation in the age of Disruption

Risks faced by today’s global businesses represent a combination of traditional concerns and newer threats that reflect changing times. The 2015 Allianz Risk Barometer,

News

SAAM SMIT Towage Brazil Signs on with Helm

Helm Operations has signed on Brazilian harbor services company SAAM SMIT Towage to its Helm Marine Operations software to manage its billing and dispatch.    SAAM

Siemens Wins Vessel Electrical Installation Contract

Nautilus Minerals Inc. announces that the order for the supply of the entire electrical installation for the production support vessel has been awarded to Siemens International Trading (Shanghai) Ltd.

Delivery Begins for HMS Prince of Wales Bridge

The bridge section of the U.K.’s second Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier has been loaded out of its dock hall in Glasgow ahead of its first sea voyage to Rosyth.

Maritime Safety

Biloxi Industrial Seaway Closed Due to Landslide

The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Biloxi Industrial Seaway in Gulfport, Miss., due to a landslide, Saturday.   The Biloxi Industrial Seaway in the vicinity of the

IMO Conference to Address Ferry Safety

Conference on the enhancement of safety of ships carrying passengers on non-international voyages, Manila, the Philippines, April 24, 2015   The International

Bulk Carrier Grounds in St. Lawrence Seaway

A 621-foot bulk carrier ran aground near Wellesley Island in the St. Lawrence River, Monday. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is responding.   The Bahamian-flagged

Government Update

Underway on LNG

On 17 January 1955, Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, USN, the first Commanding Officer of USS Nautilus (SSN 571) signaled the memorable and historic message “Underway on nuclear power.

ExxonMobil President Seeks Swift Action on US LNG Exports

The United States is at risk of losing economic opportunity and the ability to solidify its role as a global leader in energy production unless the government moves

ICS Chairman Warns of Regional Regulation Chaos

Addressing members of the Singapore Shipping Association, the Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, Masamichi Morooka, warned about the dangers of

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Pipelines Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1285 sec (8 req/sec)