U.S. Ship Held in Venezuela for Arms Trafficking

This was just sent in to us…

Did you hear about the American flagged heavy lift ship that’s been held, and formally charged by the Venezuelan government with arms trafficking?
This is now in its 7th day - U.S. Crew has been held onboard, crew told that 10 members will be taken ashore for questioning - U.S. captain taken ashore- unknown location.
3 different court proceedings have already taken place. On day of arrival ship was met by Interpol agents, Venezuelan Army and Idea.

And this…

Please can ANYONE tell us what is going on with the US Merchant Ship Atlas being detained in Venezuela?!

Intermarine’s M/V Ocean Atlas?

US Ocean LLC (Intermarine affiliate), America’s only heavy lift US Flag carrier, provides project and heavy-lift service worldwide. The company operates five(5) heavy-lift vessels under the US Flag. The M/V Ocean Atlas began flying the U.S. flag in early 2002

That fucking piece of shit Castro lover Chavez…it this is true it is a pure shake down. What assholes…they know that the owners will have to pay to get their ship back.

I would love it if the Navy Seals would swim in and take the ship back but I am sure the Venezuelan’s have already made preparations for that…

FUCK THEM!

[QUOTE=c.captain;81350]That fucking piece of shit Castro lover Chavez…it this is true it is a pure shake down. What assholes…they know that the owners will have to pay to get their ship back.

I would love it if the Navy Seals would swim in and take the ship back but I am sure the Venezuelan’s have already made preparations for that…

FUCK THEM![/QUOTE]

Agreed - Interesting, our Presidential election is only 2 months away. I think there is going to be big trouble on the way.

It’s an effing shame it wasn’t a TAL vessel!

This ship and crew seizure should not be tolerated.

Chavez has been nationalizing American companies. I think its past time that we should nationalize his US interests — he owns most of Citgo.

As I understand it, their oil is heavy sour crude with a lot of sand in it. Most refineries outside the US cannot process it. We could cut his oil revenue in half overnight by refusing to allow any of their oil to be imported for refining into the US. Maybe we are enforcing an embargo against the wrong country?

Werid last posit in Houston.

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?oldmmsi=369555000&zoom=10&olddate=lastknown

Received confirmation that an investigation is on-going. No one has been arrested and the vessel has not been detained. The vessel has not received clearance to leave however.

[QUOTE=Rebel_Rider1969;81362]Werid last posit in Houston.

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?oldmmsi=369555000&zoom=10&olddate=lastknown[/QUOTE]

That was on the 15th but she submitted an AMVER/wx report in from Venezuela on the 27th:
http://www.sailwx.info/shiptrack/shipposition.phtml?call=WDHL

Working for MSC???

MSC-chartered ships continued to support Navy and AFRICOM engagement and theater security cooperation operations throughout Africa’s Gulf of Guinea region. HSV 2 Swift was under time-charter to MSC, deployed to AFRICOM and provided support toAfrican Partnership Station operations from July to September. Additionally, [U]voyage-chartered vessels MV May, MV Ocean Atlas and MV American Tern moved Seabee equipment between several Gulf of Guinea ports and Rota, Spain, to support a variety of construction projects in Cameroon and Sao Tome. Similarly, MSC-chartered ships moved U.S. Marine Corps equipment to and from Morocco and Benin, supporting exercises African Lion and Shared Accord

Also I can’t seem to find anything on the news about this???

http://www.havocscope.com/venezuela/
Also the Black Market is about 14 BILLON there… [/U]

Looks like she’s an AMO ship operated by Pacific-Gulf Marine. Anyone have a inside source at the union?

Let’s nuke them…communist fuckers

Pacific-Gulf just told me they no longer operated the Ocean Atlas BUT this was in Tradewinds from a few months back. Not sure if it is connected.

Salco Maritime & Logistics of Lebanon has asked a federal judge to seize the 8,000-dwt Ocean Atlas (built 2000).

According to court documents, the US-flagged vessel was hired to transport a General Electric gas turbine from South Carolina to Iraq in April 2011.

Click HERE to read the complaint in full

The plaintiff claims the cargo was damaged during a loading operation when it struck lifting equipment.

Salco, which is represented by attorneys from Montgomery Barnett of New Orleans, says the incident resulted in a loss of more than $700,000 and believes Pacific Gulf and affiliate Intermarine should be held responsible.

One possibility is that Atlas was carrying arms & ammo for anti-piracy and port authorities didn’t like the documentation e.g. inventory didn’t match what was on board.

It wouldn’t be the first time a vessel has been held up for similar problems

K.C.

U.S. cargo ship captain detained in Venezuela - embassy - -Reuters

Oh shit. This was sent to us by a crewmember.

September 6, 2012
Union Brothers:

We have what is now a serious situation in Venezuela. Our ship, the Intermarine owned and Crowley operated M/V Ocean Atlas made port in Maracaibo, Venezuela on Wednesday August 29. Approximately 4 hours after tying up we were boarded by INTERPOL, local police, the local version of the DEA and other officials. They claimed that they had received a tip that our vessel was smuggling drugs.

They searched the ship stem to stern and of course turned up nothing. Then they ordered us to offload all our cargo which was searched and x-rayed. Again nothing was found. However, during the search of the house they found the weapons that are kept locked in the bonded locker which are used by our security team when we transit pirate waters (Gulf of Aden, etc.)

As he does in every port, the Captain had declared these weapons ahead of time and received clearance. However, the authorities said we didn’t have permission to have them on board and confiscated them. Several days went by and we all believed that the officials were simply waiting for the appropriate bribe before letting us go.

On Saturday we received word that there would be some sort of a trial. That we were indeed being investigated for arms trafficking. As it seemed so absurd, we didn’t take it seriously. The investigation began on Monday and the Captain had a meeting with the crew on Wednesday morning to let us know that the ship had officially been charged with arms trafficking. He said the individual members of the crew had nothing to be worried about.

That afternoon he was taken to court, we presume to testify. He came back late in the evening and never had a chance to let us know what had happened because not long after that 20-30 armed soldiers showed up demanding to be let on the ship. We had raised the gangway but in the end had to let them on.

After holding the crew at gunpoint on the fantail for some time they sent us all to the crew mess. The Captain eventually came down and said that if 10 crewmembers did not volunteer to go for questioning, that we would all be taken in handcuffs. We do not know what happened next. Only that they met with the Captain in his office and then took him away in the middle of the night, leaving the crew on the ship.

It is now 0130 local time (0200 EST) and the Captain is gone. We have no idea what is happening and who might come for us next. The Captain had told us that the company and the unions are aware of what is happening, but without him here we have no idea if anybody knows what is happening to us.

At this point it seems like we deserve some protection or intervention from the US government. What can the union do to help us here? This is not a pleasant situation. It has gone from amusing to aggravating to boring to scary.

There are 15 crewmembers on this ship including myself – 8 SIU and 7 AMO. Please let us know what you can do to help.
.
I have sent this email to every name I can think of. That is how serious the situation is.

If the Captain returns, or further events develop, I will of course make you aware.
Sincerely,

If not done already They need to notify
American Embassy.
The vessels insurance company
The union

The owners need to hire local legal representation and send company lawyers to represent the owners as well as captain and crew to Venezuela ASAP

K.C.

Arrest warrents have been issued for the entire crew. We will have to go 2 at a time for questioning. I don’t know when this will happen. We are supposed to be represented by the embassy. Reports that the Captain are not coming back are false. He is supposed to be returned to us.

WE are just supposed to make it clear that we have not been treated roughly, which is true.

stupid filter quotes don’t count as 10 characters

FYI we made the decision to delete the crew account at the request of many who thought it was a bit too Inflammatory given the sensitivity of the matter. Hope the crew stays safe and well represented!

The American Captain of the U.S.-flagged heavy-lift carrier MV Ocean Atlas has been detained by Venezuelan authorities amid an alleged weapons smuggling investigation, gCaptain sources have confirmed.
According to our sources, the Ocean Atlas was boarded by INTERPOL, local police, and members of Venezuelas’ drug enforcement agency shortly after tying up in Maracaibo, Venezuela on Wednesday August 29, claiming that they had received a tip that the vessel was smuggling drugs.
A search of the Ocean Atlas failed to turn up any drugs, however, authorities found a locked-away weapons arsenal used by the vessels security team during a recent transit of the pirate infested waters of the Gulf of Aden.
Details from this point are a bit unclear. We know for certain that the American Captain has been detained, taken off the vessel (and returned at times), although we do not know if any official charges have been filed. At this time we also understand that the ship itself has not been arrested.
The Ocean Atlas has 15 crewmembers. Reports indicate that the weapons had been listed on the ship’s manifest and given clearance prior to entering port.
The M/V Ocean Atlas is a one of four heavy-lift vessels of Intermarine’s U.S.-flag heavy-lift affiliate, U.S. Ocean, is operated Crowley and manned by AMO union officers and SIUcrew. The 8,000 DWT vessel, with 400 metric tons lifting capacity, is particularly well suited for the movement of project/heavy-lift and military cargoes, the Intermarine website says.
[I]Story developing…[/I]

http://gcaptain.com/u-s-flag-heavy-lift-vessel-held/

[QUOTE=Mikey;81389]FYI we made the decision to delete the crew account at the request of many who thought it was a bit too Inflammatory given the sensitivity of the matter. Hope the crew stays safe and well represented!

http://gcaptain.com/u-s-flag-heavy-lift-vessel-held/[/QUOTE]

So no drugs were found and the weapons had been listed on the ship’s manifest and given clearance prior to entering port.

Reminds me of a Warren Zevon song:

So most of our calls went unanswered today and very little new information is available. According to one crew member they ship is still detained but are ok. Still no word on the status of the Captain who has been identified as Jeffrey Michael Raider, 45, of Texas…

gCaptain did get a hold of one source to commented on the status of the vessel. We asked “Why has the ship not departed? Has the ship been arrested, officially detained or are they waiting on the Captain’s return”. The reply was “situation remains very fluid”.

Crowley issued this statement earlier today: “The master, who is ashore, and the crew, who remain on board the vessel, are safe. In light of the sensitive nature of the situation and our desire keep the crew safe while issues are resolved with the Venezuelan authorities, we will not provide further comment at this time.”

A CNN report claim that local authorities have agreed to return the captain to the ship on Saturday in order to move the ship from the docks to an anchorage in Maracaibo Bay. They also claim the captain was not detained until after he refused to let authorities arrest the crew.

I also got a hold of Interpol and they officially deny ever boarding the ship. I can’t say that some local didn’t claim to be interpol but, if they did, that claim appears to be bogus.

I also want to thank Father Oubre, president of Apostle Of The Sea ( http://www.aos-usa.org/ ). He’s a mariner himself and occasionally still sails out of the same union hall as the ship’s crew (SIU Houston) so he’s in contact with all the major players here in the US and the seaman’s churches in Venezuela to assist as needed.

The Council Of American Master Mariners, of which I’m a member, is also closely watching the case and working it’s channels to help get the Captain released. They have a long record of success in similar matters and are a strong voice against the criminalization of mariners. Memberships are cheap and go directly to supporting causes like this one so, if you’re an American Captain, I strongly recommend joining up. And feel free to use my name as your sponsor. Here’s the form: http://www.mastermariner.org/membership/camm-memberapp.pdf

In the meantime gCaptain’s editors will continue to update this thread and the blog when new information emerges.

-John