12 April 2011

Report from Day 22 – 28 March 2011

A representative for the owners of the MV Taipan, Olaf Höger gave evidence.

He explains how the system works: the company, Komroswki own the vessel and are in charge of the crew. They hire the ship out to a charter company who then are in charge of the cargo and the fuel. The ship was sailing under German flag. Since the events of April 2010, the ship has been sailing under Liberian flag because then it is possible to have armed guards on board (this is prohibited by German law). The flags are often chosen according to the route – e.g. an Israeli flagged ship can't travel to Arab countries.

He talks about getting a phone call on Easter morning from the captain of the Taipan, which triggered the chain of events. It was up to the captain of the ship to decide the course of action on the ship. The general directive was to be defensive, i.e. retract to the safe room and shut the door. There were no weapons on board.

The events have had an impact on the company – they would like to avoid the route but are bound by charter contracts. Or they take armed guards on board. They have difficulty finding crew members for the German flagged ships, where nor guards are allowed. But even with guards, a lot of crew aren't willing to take the risk. The armed guards had become “a whole new industry”, which charges between US$ 60,000 and 100,000 per passage. The company was paying US$ 25,000 for kidnap and ransom insurance for each passage.