ISWAN responded quickly when we heard that a ship, the Aris 13, had been hijacked off the coast of Somalia on Monday 13 March. Chirag Bahri, ISWAN’s South Asia Regional Director and piracy survivor, made immediate contact with the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the piracy reporting centre, to obtain more details of the ship and crew. As soon as the eight crew were confirmed as Sri Lankan, Chirag contacted the local welfare responders in Colombo, including the ITF Inspector, Ranjan Perera. Chirag also made contact with the local crewing agency.
ISWAN was in close touch with John Steed of Oceans Beyond Piracy who is based in the region and has expert knowledge of Somali piracy. He kept ISWAN informed of developments as the situation progressed.
The SeafarerHelp team in the ISWAN office were briefed about supporting the families of the hijacked seafarers and they soon began to receive calls from one of the wives of the seafarers. The situation became tense during the period of captivity when threats were made to the crew by the pirates as the ship was being surrounded by the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF). Thankfully, the crew were released after a few days without a ransom being paid.
This incident shows that piracy has not gone away and the industry, including the welfare organisations, still needs to remain vigilant. Chirag and the SeafarerHelp team responded quickly and appropriately and we will continue to offer support to the crew and their families when the seafarers return home after their ordeal.