Seaman Guard Ohio, Chennai, India and the Law


Going by the letter of the Law globally, what happened in the US is of no concern when the flag State is Sierra Leone, a fact that those who sailed onboard undoubtedly knew when they signed on in whatever capacity. The front end is the mercenaries in this case, and keeping them in jail as a method of getting the message across to the rest of the world is totally justified, as well as legal.

“The Dogs of War” are far too real in the economies of the Indian Ocean and as one of the few countries around with a reasonable presence it is India’s domestic and international role to keep some semblance of adherence to international law and order on the high seas. Otherwise anybody and everybody with access to The Farm or The Hill or the SIS Building at Vauxhall Cross with delusions of grandeur and a few guns to sell will plunk another decommissioned gunboat in our backyard.

No Sir, not happening, and the more this case gets publicity in the Western media, the fewer mercenaries and their cohorts are going to swing by India’s territorial and economic waters.


I see that you said “Shut your mouth boy”, Snusmumriken? Those days are long gone and over.

snusmumriken 43 mins

“Shut your mouth boy.”

(post withdrawn by author, will be automatically deleted in 24 hours unless flagged)"


Avoid the Indian legal system, because THE PROCESS IS THE PUNISHMENT.
The crew of Seaman Guard Ohio will not return home for a long long time.


Sadly, Sir, the criminalisation of seafarers is an international phenomenon swept under the carpet for far too long. And to my experience impacts all regardless of nationality. In most cases, the seafarer languishes in a jail while the ship itself is released and resumes trading - I can quote multiple such cases. This is one of the few where the ship itself has been held back - but if that in itself is not enough to draw the owners out for an engagement then work through the legal system.

Thankfully we have a legal system in India. I can name countries where the legal system is “throw the key away”.


What the hell are you talking about? No one mentioned anything happening in the US.

So keeping them in jail, even though they broke no law, is justified? No wonder your country’s legal system is so fucked up, people there must think like you do.


That was me that mentioned it. They had hired a number of lobbyist and PR types in Washington to legitimize the operation.


I worked for three years as Chief Mate off the coast of Kakinada, India aboard a Marshall Islands flagged vessel operated by Transocean and working for Reliance. I knew who I was working for and I knew the flag but neither I nor my officers (all excellent sailors of the Indian Merchant Navy) knew just how dangerous our corporate drilling policies were and, in hindsight, I am surprised we didn’t cause a major oil spill in the Bay of Bengal.

Should I too be sitting in Jail right now because I was fooled into thinking drilling methods my company employed were much safer than proved true?

Did the crew of the Seaman Guard Ohio shoot anyone? No. Did I spill any oil into the Bay of Bengal? No.

So should I never visit again India because I may potentially get arrested for having signed up with an opaque and dangerous employer? Because that would be sad considering I still have may close friends living in your beautiful country.


The major thing that keeps India a third world shithole instead of a prosperous first world country is the lack of reliable and predictable rule of law, and a reasonably functional legal system.


That’s over simplifying it. Have been to India???




That’s the simple truth. The legal system in India is the pits.
E.g, a tennant can refuse to vacate his lease on the pretext that his ability to earn a living is possible only if he continues to stay on these premises. The courts have accepted this argument. It has now become a legal precedence, misused by millions. There are properties on rent at a measly sum of 10 dollars a month since 1954 ( because that was the original rent ) that cannot be vacated. The original owner and the original tennant have long died, leaving the descendants to fight legal battles in the courts.
Only in India.
Some accused have spent more than 20 yrs under-trial just because they are poor and have no recourse to legal assistance.
Ombugge, you should get out of Norway, especially during the miserable months of winter. It must be depressing living there in a small and dark room. Try living for a day in an Indian jail, it is usually a large and dark room, occupied by about 20 friendly Indians.


Yes. I’ve been to India. I also know educated Indians who fled to the US for opportunity.

Of course any one sentence comment oversimplifies, but it is still essentially accurate.


Oh sorry, I should have explained. I should know by now that my type of sarcasm isn’t always understood.

Yes I agree about the slowness of the Indian Courts. Another problem is that they adapted all old Laws left behind by the colonial power, Britain, and added to them over the last 70 years, but never remove any as they became obsolete. They also have a legal problem in common with the US; TOO MANY LAWYERS.

My question; “have you been in India??” was not to be taken literally (popular term these days)
My follow-up would be; if you have, you know that there are a lot of other problems in India. One is too much “democracy” and “freedom of speech” in a country that is not ready for it. Half the politicizing and “talking about it” would be a good start. The political process is nearly as screwed up as yours, making any decisions almost impossible to obtain in a reasonable time span.

And yes, corruption is also hampering development, but favouring those who can afford to pay.

The other problem is obviously the large and growing population in a country that has no hope of developing jobs fast enough, partly due to the above.

My pet peeve is about the cumbersome bureaucracy, (The License Raj) especially the mid-level officials. As one who have had to deal with them over the years, I can vouch for that being something to hamstring and keeps India from “taking it’s rightful place in the world”, as is so often proclaimed to be the goal.


Captain Phoenix - presumably from Arizona, guess what? I can shoot from the hip too. So let’s get that out of the way. HOWEVER, since you haven’t said anything even remotely intelligent in your last post, I can’t really answer you, so you will please excuse me. Have a nice day and get well soon, do remember to take your meds, please?

Pikeman - the Indian legal system also has Fast Track capabilities. But in this specific case it seems that none of the Defendants have really asked for it. Wonder why?

john - good to learn you were in the Godavari basin, very pretty part of India, Kakinada, incidentally, was also where a large number of US Armed forces people were located during WW-II, Flying Boats and more, and their valour as well as democratic way of life are still spoken about. To answer your specific question - criminalisation of the seafarer is a larger global topic which does require being addressed though here sadly I am being drawn out into being attacked on grounds of being an Indian in India. The seafarer onboard is the last man in the chain and does become the fall guy, it has been so for ages now, what can be done to fix this please? A simple example would be the HEBEI SPIRIT case.

tugsailor - thank you your kind words. Get well soon. Do remember to take your meds.

Pikeman - yes, the legal system could do with some overhauling and improvement. Historically, whenever the Justice Delivery System has failed a people is when slavery to foreign rule happens next EXCEPT when the colonials come calling, then it is time to lampoon existing systems of all sorts and impose something which is a parody of Justice and then Justify this. We are currently stuck with the remnants of the British Justice system but change is afoot. And yes, one reason I quit sailing was to help my Dad recover his property, 17+5 years, so I know about that too.

Now that I’ve answered everybody, here is my point of view, again, for the larger topic at hand, with a request to people to please stop making this a spitting or pissing contest?

Memories of war-fleets from colonial countries entering the Indian Ocean economies are still fresh in the minds of indigenous coastal people in Africa, Asia and the Antipodes. Every now and then, therefore, it is time to remind the quite often redneck type descendants of the colonials that now we also have guns as well as a voice. Sure, come to the Indian Ocean economies to trade, but please leave your guns behind and do try to remove the Jones Act also while you are at it in the interests of real freedom to trade.

A lot would be solved if the real owners hiding behind the equally complicated legal system of, say, Delaware or Isle of Man as tax havens, would come forward. So before taking dumps on India, which may have been flavour of the day 200-400-600 years ago, think about it - how transparent is the legal system of the Western and other countries with their massive games on hiding basic truths like “who is the real owner of the ship?”

If that question was answered, I have a sneaking feeling that the crew would be off and home in a few days, so maybe that question should be addressed to the Governments of the people behind the ship please?

Thanks you & humbly submitted.

(Sorry for the delay in response but time zones and limit to number of posts per day prevail.)


Stick to facts and logic, even if you have accidently consumed a fistful of Andhra chillies.
What stops the Indians from overhauling their legal system?
You have not given your opinion on my example of indian tennants occupying rented premises forever?
Not humbly submitted.


Chennai Six Found Not Guilty


Goes into appeal to the next higher level, and the functional part is this - "The judge said, “The accused are directed to be released forthwith unless their detention is required in connection with other cases. Their seized passports and documents are ordered to be returned in filing if proper application after getting acknowledgement.”

Larger point - no more gun running mercenaries in our part of the world.


They weren’t gun runners…


They may or may not have been gun runners, that’s still to be seen, but fact remains, we’ve had more than our shares of gun-runners and mercenaries trying to influence history in our part of the world.

They shall think twice or even more henceforth.


No, the facts are known, they were NOT gun runners. What’s still to be seen is if they are convicted of bullshit charges, which also aren’t for “gun running”.