Turn for the worst

MV Orna, discharging in Canada

Problems in my life seem so very trivial compared to the sad story I read about last week. I first read about it, amidst my “problems”; a hectic week, where the kids, after a long summer re-entered school, and I’ve returned aboard my ship. Somalian pirates have reportedly executed a crew member, in order to speed up the payment of a ransom for the pirated vessel Orna.

The MV Orna, is a 27,915 DWT bulk carrier, built in 1984, that was captured nearly two years ago, on a passage between South Africa and India with a full load of coal. The UAE based owners, Sirago Ship Mngt., and manager – Swedish Ship Management, both of Dubai, have all but abandoned the crew on-board, despite a relatively low ransom demand of 2.2 million dollars.

It’s hard to imagine what the hardships sailors on currently held ships might be enduring. But this particular crew members, a Syrian sailor, and his family back home have probably endured the most horrible torture imaginable.

Probably hired on very low wage, he spends nearly two years being held prisoner by pirates. While in captivity, the accommodations catch fire, forcing them to evacuate. The ship’s crew has been abandoned, with the owner of the vessel refusing to pay the agreed ransom. Of course, all this is happening while his family back home in Syria, is taking shelter from the violence of the civil war there, which has already claimed at least 4000 lives.

How bad can life get for one family? My sincerest condolences go to this Syrian sailor’s family, who are enduring unimaginable stress in their lives.


This very sad story is feared to be be signalling a development in the negotiation tactics by Somalian pirates off the horn of Africa. The overall piracy count off of Somalia is down dramatically this year, probably due to the huge naval presence in the area. The same cannot be said of the west coast of Africa, where a resurgence of attacks on commercial ships, have hit Nigerian / Togo waters. Here is an interesting ‘matter of fact’ summary of piracy in Puntland, Somalia.

At the end of the day, many real sailors, and their families, are caught up in this disastrous situation. 

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