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yellowfin
04-29-2009, 11:33 AM
This could be interesting for us if the judge rules crew should have been armed and the company is held liable for not allowing them to do so. The nonsense of being liable for allowing folks to be armed but not liable if they're not needs squashing.

Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama
By JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press Writer
Apr 27, 2009 11:09 PM EST
HOUSTON - A member of the crew on the U.S.-flagged ship hijacked by African pirates sued the owner and another company Monday, accusing them of knowingly putting sailors in danger. Richard E. Hicks alleges in the suit that owner Maersk Line Limited and Waterman Steamship Corp., which provided the crew, ignored requests to improve safety measures for vessels sailing along the Somali coast.

Hicks was chief cook on the Maersk Alabama. Pirates held the ship's captain hostage for five days until the U.S. Navy rescued him.

Hicks' lawsuit seeks at least $75,000 in damages and improved safety.

Officials for Norfolk, Va.-based Maersk Line and Mobile, Ala.-based Waterman said their companies don't comment on pending litigation.

Hicks asked that the two companies improve safety for ships by providing armed security or allowing crew members to carry weapons, sending ships through safer routes, and placing such safety measures on ships as barbed wire that would prevent pirates from being able to board vessels.

"We've had safety meetings every month for the last three years and made suggestions of what should be done and they have been ignored," Hicks said. "I'm just trying to make sure this is a lot better for other seamen."

Hicks also asked the two companies pay at least $75,000 in damages, saying he doesn't know if he will ever work on a ship again.

"My family is not looking forward to me going back out to sea. But I'm not sure if I'm going back. I'm still nervous, leery. I might find something else to do, said Hicks, who has worked 32 years as a merchant seaman.

"We think (the companies) should be more concerned about the personnel on their ships than the profits the companies make," said Terry Bryant, Hicks' attorney.

Both companies do business in Texas, which is why the suit was filed in Houston, he said.

Pirates took over the Alabama on April 8 before Capt. Richard Phillips surrendered himself in exchange for the safety of his 19-member crew. The captain was taken on a lifeboat and held hostage for five days before U.S. Navy SEAL snipers on the destroyer USS Bainbridge killed three of his captors and freed him.

Hicks said crew members have been trained on what to do if pirates or others threaten the ship.

"We need more than training," said the 53-year-old who lives in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., and has two grown sons. "I never thought nothing like this would ever happen."

Hicks said pirates had tried to board the ship two other times that week, but the Alabama had managed to outrun them. But on April 8, as Hicks was preparing food for the crew, the ship's alarm rang and the captain announced the ship was being boarded by pirates.

Hicks and the other crew members went to their designated safety room, which was the engine room, and they waited there for more than 12 hours in 125 degree heat.

"I didn't know if I was going to live or die," Hicks said.

The crew managed to take a pirate hostage, wounding him with an ice pick, and attempted to use him to get back Phillips. But the bandits fled the ship with Phillips as their captive, holding him in the lifeboat until the SEAL sharpshooters rescued him.

"He did a hell of a job saving us," Hicks said of Phillips.

But Bryant said the Maersk Line and Waterman share the blame for putting the crew at risk.

"We want to bring more attention to the shipping industry and the dangers in pirate-infested waters," he said.

Since dealing with piracy (be it this or simple domestic boat jacking and/or problems related to drug runners) is a stated United States goal in the Constitution, could the 2nd Amendment be specifically applied/extended for that purpose?

Vtec44
04-29-2009, 11:43 AM
This is interesting but makes sense. THe pirates are so bold because they knew these ships are unarmed.

Dark&Good
04-29-2009, 11:50 AM
Chief Cook FTW! :D

Theseus
04-29-2009, 11:51 AM
I say go for it! It never made since that a cargo ship would not have an armory.

bohoki
04-29-2009, 11:51 AM
cant they just run down some electrified metal mesh and put about 400 volts on it

PolishMike
04-29-2009, 11:59 AM
Maritime law is a whole nother beast. Doubt any of this would apply anywhere.

halifax
04-29-2009, 12:04 PM
Maritime law is a whole nother beast. Doubt any of this would apply anywhere.

The captain is still king, is he not?

Publius
04-29-2009, 12:04 PM
I doubt he'll make much headway. One reason merchant ships DON'T carry arms is that most of the world is anti-gun, and they have to visit all kinds of ports with draconian gun laws. What's the court gonna say, that the shipping company should have just refused to transport goods to any of those countries?

DDT
04-29-2009, 12:10 PM
I doubt he'll make much headway. One reason merchant ships DON'T carry arms is that most of the world is anti-gun, and they have to visit all kinds of ports with draconian gun laws. What's the court gonna say, that the shipping company should have just refused to transport goods to any of those countries?

No, that the ship should obey the laws of other countries while in port. Most countries have no trouble with firearms onboard. Some required you to give them to the authorities for the duration of your stay.

xzw151
04-29-2009, 12:13 PM
I think he is just out for quick money, and in any event whatever his goal is I doubt he will ever get another sailing job again. Its a small industry and its easy to get blackballed :chris:

CCWFacts
04-29-2009, 12:35 PM
Most countries have no trouble with firearms onboard. Some required you to give them to the authorities for the duration of your stay.

I can't imagine that a ship could pull into some major harbors like Singapore, Taiwan, London, etc with guns on board. I know that when I arrive at Chiang Kai Shek, there's a sign in imperfect English to the effect of "if you try to bring in a gun, you will be executed".

I sympathize with this guy but his suit sounds like a crackpot pro se type of thing.

yellowfin
04-29-2009, 1:08 PM
I can't imagine that a ship could pull into some major harbors like Singapore, Taiwan, London, etc with guns on board. I know that when I arrive at Chiang Kai Shek, there's a sign in imperfect English to the effect of "if you try to bring in a gun, you will be executed". If we had an entirely different kind of administration perhaps we could work on that. At very least we could pull all foreign aid to countries lacking RKBA and easement for our merchant marine. There's a lot of gentle and constructive input we could use, then arm twisting if we didn't get it done that way.

Dark&Good
04-29-2009, 1:14 PM
What if the defense was (on) another vessel? When the cargo ship arrives to a port, the defense could stay away from the shore and wait for the cargo?
I'm green in this area (oh, wait... I'm green, no matter what :D ), just an idea...

bartt
04-29-2009, 1:15 PM
Seems mighty foolish not be armed on the open seas.
If a given port requires it, couldn't the arms be locked up and subject to inspection. I fail to understand how that would be a problem, but then again I'm just a common sense kind of guy..

CCWFacts
04-29-2009, 1:16 PM
If we had an entirely different kind of administration perhaps we could work on that. At very least we could pull all foreign aid to countries lacking RKBA and easement for our merchant marine.

That would be a wonderful idea, but - we don't give foreign aid to major ports like London and Singapore and many others.

There's a lot of gentle and constructive input we could use, then arm twisting if we didn't get it done that way.

Yeah, we could, if we didn't have a Socialist in Chief running this country now.

CCWFacts
04-29-2009, 1:19 PM
Seems mighty foolish not be armed on the open seas.
If a given port requires it, couldn't the arms be locked up and subject to inspection. I fail to understand how that would be a problem, but then again I'm just a common sense kind of guy..

Imagine this scenario. Let's say there's some island somewhere that has gun laws that are even less strict than the US. A ship from that island (sensibly) arms itself with M60s to fight off pirates. This ship, with a handful of M60s on board, pulls into a US harbor.

What would happen? Would they tell the customs officials there, "yeah, we've got some M60s. Can we just keep them on board while we're docked here?"

Um, no, doesn't work that way. The crew would end up getting a long-term vacation here in the US. Now, most other countries in the world treat any gun the same way we treat M60s.

yellowfin
04-29-2009, 1:28 PM
Imagine this scenario. Let's say there's some island somewhere that has gun laws that are even less strict than the US. A ship from that island (sensibly) arms itself with M60s to fight off pirates. This ship, with a handful of M60s on board, pulls into a US harbor.

What would happen? Would they tell the customs officials there, "yeah, we've got some M60s. Can we just keep them on board while we're docked here?"

Um, no, doesn't work that way. The crew would end up getting a long-term vacation here in the US. Now, most other countries in the world treat any gun the same way we treat M60s.
Like I said, we have the wrong people running the country right now. If we didn't, we could work that out.

Publius
04-29-2009, 1:37 PM
What if the defense was (on) another vessel? When the cargo ship arrives to a port, the defense could stay away from the shore and wait for the cargo?
I'm green in this area (oh, wait... I'm green, no matter what :D ), just an idea...

That's theoretically possible, as long as the other vessel stayed in international waters, but probably not economically feasible. So far, it's been more practical to just insure against the risk of piracy. If pirate activity keeps picking up or the pirates become more ruthless, the economic calculus may change.

but then again I'm just a common sense kind of guy..

There's your problem: thinking that common sense has anything to do with how governments regulate firearms. ;)

Vtec44
04-29-2009, 1:41 PM
I've always thought that on the ship itself, you obey the laws of the country that the ship belongs to. If it's a US ship, it is basically a piece of US land. Out of that ship then it's another story

7x57
04-29-2009, 1:47 PM
The captain is still king, is he not?

The captain is king, but the owner is his Lord and God. I have read a story of a captain risking the lives of the entire crew and his family on board to save a few dollars of coal, because the owners wanted costs minimized and hired captains that would do it.

7x57

Publius
04-29-2009, 2:00 PM
I've always thought that on the ship itself, you obey the laws of the country that the ship belongs to. If it's a US ship, it is basically a piece of US land. Out of that ship then it's another story

That's true on the high seas (international waters), but once you enter a country's territorial waters their rules apply. Some U.S. citizens have gotten in big trouble by sailing their U.S.-registered boats down to Mexico with a gun on board, even without bringing the gun off the boat.

Vtec44
04-29-2009, 2:02 PM
That's true on the high seas (international waters), but once you enter a country's territorial waters their rules apply.

Ah, that makes sense.

DDT
04-29-2009, 2:04 PM
Um, no, doesn't work that way. The crew would end up getting a long-term vacation here in the US. Now, most other countries in the world treat any gun the same way we treat M60s.

I think your understanding of non-US gun laws is rather limited.

Google sailing or cruising and guns.

Python2
04-29-2009, 2:34 PM
[QUOTE=CCWFacts;2394789]I "if you try to bring in a gun, you will be executed".

QUOTE]

I did not read anything here that imply such statement? I have assumed all firearms will be in the ship locked when in port and unlocked and loaded when in international water.

Python2
04-29-2009, 2:45 PM
This ship, with a handful of M60s on board, pulls into a US harbor.

What would happen? Would they tell the customs officials there, "yeah, we've got some M60s. Can we just keep them on board while we're docked here?"
.

Question for you since you appear to know what you are talking about.

When a ship pulls into port, is the captain require to declare everything he's got on board including knives in the kitchen. or better yet, does US custom have to check all nooks and crannies in the ship including safe? I am speaking of stuffs that stays on board?

CCWFacts
04-29-2009, 4:06 PM
I "if you try to bring in a gun, you will be executed".

I did not read anything here that imply such statement? I have assumed all firearms will be in the ship locked when in port and unlocked and loaded when in international water.

I realize, I was talking about a sign at the airport. I've never been to the harbor at Taiwan. I was mentioning it only to give an idea of how absolutely unforgiving Taiwan's gun laws are, and how I would not want to mess with them, not even to the tiniest degree. Singapore is similar in its harshness. From what I can tell, when someone is caught with a gun in Singapore, it's standard practice for him to be killed during arrest.

Question for you since you appear to know what you are talking about.

Not especially, other than being a frequent international traveler who has had to fill out many many arrival and visa forms.

When a ship pulls into port, is the captain require to declare everything he's got on board including knives in the kitchen. or better yet, does US custom have to check all nooks and crannies in the ship including safe? I am speaking of stuffs that stays on board?

No, certainly the captain is not required to declare every item on the ship, but I assume he must fill in an arrival form, probably the same / similar to the form that you fill in when arriving at the airport. The form you fill in on the plane does not ask you to list everything you've got, but (in the places in Asia I can remember) there are a few yes / no questions on there, including, "do you have any firearms or weapons". I'm sure the arrival forms they use for ships have similar questions.

For arrival in the US, the arrival form is the CF-6059:

http://www.dutyfreeexpress.com/img/cf6059b_5ffront.jpg

Probably most people here have filled one of those out at one time or another.

It asks about live plants / animals, controlled substances, toxins, cash over $10,000. Interestingly, our CF-6059 does not ask about weapons. The forms equivalent to the CF-6059 that other countries (Taiwan, Singapore, and so on) that I can recall do have questions about weapons, and the Taiwanese and Singaporean versions of it also have intimidating statements about the death penalty for importing any drugs or weapons.

But even though our CF-6059 doesn't mention weapons, that certainly does not mean it's legal to bring in a weapon. Importing any firearm into the US requires an ATF Form 6 (http://www.atf.gov/forms/pdfs/f53303a.pdf) (I believe). Just because they don't hand those out upon arrival doesn't mean it isn't required.

Any foreign crew that docks in a US harbor with unregistered MGs (for example) is violating the NFA and is in very serious trouble here if they are found out.

Obviously, customs does not search every nook and cranny on a ship. But the penalties are so harsh (death in parts of Asia, very serious Federal sentences in the US) that it would be insane to mess these laws and take any chance that your ship might be selected for a random search.

Remember, in the US, when going through customs, you do not have your normal Fourth Amendment protections requiring probable cause for a search, and I believe that a ship in a harbor here is probably "in customs" and has no Fourth Amendment protections. They have nearly complete freedom to search you for any reason, or no reason, without a warrant. Other countries don't even have a Fourth Amendment, and certainly give their customs officials nearly complete freedom to search arriving ships or passengers.

Dark&Good
04-29-2009, 4:10 PM
I got very curious about their (Singapore, Taiwan) crime rate and public safety...

yellowfin
04-29-2009, 4:10 PM
Doesn't the international community supposedly care about human rights? RKBA is a human right they somehow seem to never mention in that context.

Dark&Good
04-29-2009, 4:17 PM
Haha, look at this: "There are no jury trials in Singapore. Judges hear cases and decide sentencing."
Also "Singapore customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import and export of items such as weapons, illegal drugs, certain religious materials, pornographic material, videotapes, CDs, DVDs and software. Singapore customs authorities’ definition of "weapon" is very broad, and, in addition to firearms, includes many items which are not necessarily seen as weapons in the United States, such as dive knives, kitchen knives, handcuffs and expended shell casings. Carrying any of these items without permission may result in immediate arrest."

( http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1017.html )

yellowfin
04-29-2009, 4:23 PM
In contrast with this, you can get a non resident CCW for Belize for $125. Just fill out forms and xerox some stuff like a CCW you have and your passport, maybe fingerprints (?), and the money and wait 2-4 months.

DDT
04-29-2009, 4:31 PM
gotta think that if a cruise ship can carry guns a cargo ship ought to be able to.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/26/italian-cruise-ship-pirates

CCWFacts
04-29-2009, 4:36 PM
Singapore customs authorities’ definition of "weapon" is very broad, and, in addition to firearms, includes many items which are not necessarily seen as weapons in the United States, such as dive knives, kitchen knives, handcuffs and expended shell casings. Carrying any of these items without permission may result in immediate arrest.

EXACTLY MY POINT. Damn, you do NOT want to mess with these people, period. It would be suicidal to try to have a gun on your boat in the Singapore harbor. It's not just the gun, it's a single empty brass shell, a magazine, a barrel, ANYTHING like that is illegal there, and there's no leniency in such things. There's no Fourth Amendment (protection against warrantless searches), no Second Amendment (obviously), no right to trial by jury, no Eighth Amendment (protection against cruel and unusual punishment).

JDay
04-29-2009, 4:51 PM
cant they just run down some electrified metal mesh and put about 400 volts on it

Those kinds of defenses only hold up until the RPGs start flying. Not to mention that the salt water will quickly short it out.

JDay
04-29-2009, 4:53 PM
I doubt he'll make much headway. One reason merchant ships DON'T carry arms is that most of the world is anti-gun, and they have to visit all kinds of ports with draconian gun laws. What's the court gonna say, that the shipping company should have just refused to transport goods to any of those countries?

So long as the weapons are locked up in the armory before entering said countries territorial waters you are fine.

JDay
04-29-2009, 4:54 PM
I can't imagine that a ship could pull into some major harbors like Singapore, Taiwan, London, etc with guns on board. I know that when I arrive at Chiang Kai Shek, there's a sign in imperfect English to the effect of "if you try to bring in a gun, you will be executed".

I sympathize with this guy but his suit sounds like a crackpot pro se type of thing.

You do realize that you don't pass through customs until you get off the ship right? Ships are for the most part bound by the laws of the country who's flag they fly.

JDay
04-29-2009, 5:00 PM
I've always thought that on the ship itself, you obey the laws of the country that the ship belongs to. If it's a US ship, it is basically a piece of US land. Out of that ship then it's another story

Correct, the only exception is when you are in another countries waters you must obey the host countries rules. This generally just requires things to be locked away while in port and customs will usually seal the locked cabinet so that they know whether or not it was opened while in port.

JDay
04-29-2009, 5:05 PM
I realize, I was talking about a sign at the airport. I've never been to the harbor at Taiwan.

Well since you don't hold a MMD or a License please don't spread FUD on this subject.

CCWFacts
04-29-2009, 5:14 PM
Well since you don't hold a MMD or a License please don't spread FUD on this subject.

No, I don't have anything like that. Can you confirm that ships in harbor do not have to obey the host country's gun laws, or else they can simply seal off the armory and that's adequate? I would find that very surprising, but if that's how it works, then it would change the whole thing and make it practical to be armed on a boat.

I know that boaters are strongly warned against having guns on the boat when docking in Mexico, and there are always stories of arrests (http://articles.latimes.com/1998/aug/21/local/me-15168) there. That doesn't tally with the idea that boats in a harbor are somehow exempt from the host country's gun laws?

What's the real deal on this? At exactly which point do the host country's laws come into force on a ship that's coming in? When it enters the territorial waters, when it enters the harbor, when it docks, when it does something with customs?

JDay
04-29-2009, 5:16 PM
No, I don't have anything like that. Can you confirm that ships in harbor do not have to obey the host country's gun laws, or else they can simply seal off the armory and that's adequate? I would find that very surprising, but if that's how it works, then it would change the whole thing and make it practical to be armed on a boat.

For the most part, yes.

I know that boaters are strongly warned against having guns on the boat when docking in Mexico, and there are always stories of arrests (http://articles.latimes.com/1998/aug/21/local/me-15168) there. That doesn't tally with the idea that boats in a harbor are somehow exempt from the host country's gun laws?

What's the real deal on this?

Boaters are not the same are Merchant Marines.

ETA: I know several mariners who are in the Gulf of Mexico right now who carry firearms on their vessels. They work on the supply ships that operate in the oil fields.

CCWFacts
04-29-2009, 5:22 PM
Interesting, I was not aware that that was possible. I've just seen all the frightening warnings on arrival, and heard the stories of boaters getting free extended vacations in Mexico. Well, if merchant marines are somehow exempt, then good for them, they should be packing! I assume they would be under the laws of wherever they are flagged, but that's pretty flexible and they should be able to find some country that would do it.

JDay
04-29-2009, 5:25 PM
Interesting, I was not aware that that was possible. I've just seen all the frightening warnings on arrival, and heard the stories of boaters getting free extended vacations in Mexico. Well, if merchant marines are somehow exempt, then good for them, they should be packing! I assume they would be under the laws of wherever they are flagged, but that's pretty flexible and they should be able to find some country that would do it.

For US Mariners 46 CFR is the law of the land.

http://www.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/cfrassemble.cgi?title=200546

JDay
04-29-2009, 5:28 PM
That arrest in Mexico in the article appears to have been political.

The case now comes down to a dispute over facts: The McClungs say that the crew did call port officials as soon as they arrived in Cozumel to come out and take down declarations about the two semiautomatic rifles and three shotguns aboard the ship for protection at sea; that the district attorney arrived and inspected the guns; and that he returned a while later with a police raiding party, pretending never to have been aboard before, and made the arrests.

Tillers_Rule
04-29-2009, 5:34 PM
I think he is just out for quick money, and in any event whatever his goal is I doubt he will ever get another sailing job again. Its a small industry and its easy to get blackballed :chris:

I think it's great he's doing this. Rather than being selfish about it and keeping quiet just so he has a job, he's speaking up and doing what's right, trying to ensure everyone who does the job is safer. That's very commendable.

Theseus
04-29-2009, 5:42 PM
I am by no means an expert either, but I don't believe that contries go on ships attempting to port to inspect that everything on the ship is in compliance with the hosts laws.

I believe that they are allowed to have weapons as what I would believe to be some form of international maritime law.

My understanding is that some situations are different, for example that nuclear craft are not allowed to dock at certain ports due to treaty or something.

CCWFacts
04-29-2009, 5:43 PM
That arrest in Mexico in the article appears to have been political.

Right. Unfortunately, even if maritime law says that it's strictly legal to have arms in a sealed locker on the ship while in port, the crew are still subject to the risks of the local gendarmes who hate guns, hate Westerners, and want a bribe, and have a rigged judicial system. Like in this article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/26/italian-cruise-ship-pirates) that DDT posted:

The captain's decision to use guns was praised by the ship's owners, but sharply criticised by a maritime official who said the move had imperilled passengers' lives.

"Having weapons on a passenger or merchant ship is dangerous," Andrew Mwangura of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers Assistance Programme told Reuters.

"They should have used other means to shake off the pirates, like a loud acoustic device."

Yeah, Mr. Mwangura from Mombasa is not someone I would want to argue with over the fine points of maritime law and why I have some M60s in my armory.

But anyway, if it's legal to do it, then that is cool, and if it started becoming routine, there would be less risk of non-legal retaliation from the local law enforcement.

yellowfin
04-29-2009, 6:11 PM
Mr Mwangura identifies himself as one of the reasons we'd have the M60's if he becomes a problem.

Model X
04-29-2009, 6:13 PM
What would a loud acoustic device do again? Are pirates not capable of getting hearing protection? Or simply shuting off the device by force?

JDay
04-29-2009, 6:55 PM
What would a loud acoustic device do again? Are pirates not capable of getting hearing protection? Or simply shuting off the device by force?

It can disable you, thing is it cant disable an incoming RPG. Earplugs do not help either. LRAD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_range_acoustic_device) http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,385048,00.html