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Bourbon Liberty 249 crew release and trade unionists

On Nov 1 Bourbon company issued press-release saying that 7 crew members, 6 Russians and 1 Estonian, abducted during the boarding of the Bourbon Liberty 249 off the coast of Nigeria, on October 15, 2012, were released. Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and Russia confirmed the news. Sailors are in good health, giving the circumstances, and soon will be back home with their families.

The case should be considered as a success if considering the lives of the seamen a priority. Bourbon did what it could in order to get the sailors back alive and unharmed. There was no other way to save them in Nigeria. The pirates of GoG coastal countries made a business out of kidnappings, and the criminals are sensible enough to keep their word and return hostages after their demands are met. There is little doubt as to the nature of their demand, it’s surely a ransom. The shipowners whose crews are hijacked in GoG have no other means of securing the release of their people, except paying ransoms, they can’t trust local authorities. The interested parties, the States whose citizen were hijacked, have to avoid direct involvement if they want their citizen to stay alive, restricting themselves with whatever assistance they can render to the shipowner, and with monitoring the situation. And that’s exactly what Estonia and Russia did in this case – they didn’t interfere and gave Bourbon a free hand. When I was asked yesterday by Russian media my opinion on the case, especially how do I appreciate the efforts of the Russian and Estonian authorities, I told them that I found those efforts, the way the reacted and behaved, as most responsible and sensible.

Meanwhile, Seafarers Union of Russia (SUR) was attacking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Bourbon Company for their lack of efforts, accusing the shipowner of being irresponsible and too greedy. Russian unionists tried to raid Bourbon office in S-Petersburg in order step in and take part in the case. The Bourbon crewing agency in Russia doesn’t have the contract with SUR (ITF affiliate), meaning SUR activists have no rights whatsoever to demand from Bourbon the cooperation. SUR presumably, tried to contact the relatives of the hijacked crew to coax them into authorize SUR as their representatives, and as such, having enough legal power to raid the office and get into the case, bearing as usual, no responsibility. No doubts the ITF/SUR are infuriated the Bourbon is still out of their reach, no doubt they were trying to be granted a legal status as representatives in order to force the Bourbon Russian office into signing contract with SUR. SUR made a big show out of the case, though Ministry of Foreign Affairs and my Maritime Bulletin were asking them to stay quiet in a very delicate situation, because any official involvement might jeopardize the talks and as a result, lives of the hostages. Well, SUR failed, but the story isn’t over yet, there is a public debate going on between me and SUR (on the pages of Maritime Bulletin and SUR online editions), me having more than enough facts to nail the SUR/ITF for their unscrupulous and bluntly immoral strive for the power.

Voytenko Mikhail
Nov 2

Bourbon press-release:
Liberation of the 7 crew members abducted in Nigeria on October 15, 2012
Paris, November 1st, 2012
BOURBON confirms that the 7 crew members, 6 Russians and 1 Estonian, abducted during the boarding of the Bourbon Liberty 249 off the coast of Nigeria, on October 15, 2012, were released today.
Despite difficult conditions while in captivity, they all appear to be in good health.
They are currently being looked after by the members of the BOURBON Emergency Unit in Nigeria where they are undergoing careful medical and psychological check-ups.
The 7 employees will be returning to their own countries within the next few days to be reunited with their families and friends.
This news comes as an immense relief to all BOURBON employees who share the joy of the families.
BOURBON wishes to extend its thanks to the organizations who, along with the Emergency Unit, have worked towards this liberation, including the Nigerian local authorities (Police, Special Security Services and Joint Task Force) as well as the Nigerian, Russian, Estonian, Luxemburg and French Governments.
BOURBON would also like to warmly thank all those who have shown their support and encouragement in these difficult circumstances.
For reasons of confidentiality and in order to preserve the privacy of the families, no information will be given about the demands, the context, the released crewmembers and their families.
BOURBON will not make any comment.

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