Print  |  E-mail Article  |  Close Window   AMO Currents  -  Posted: September 7, 2012

Diplomatic drive underway in Ocean Atlas case

American Maritime Officers, the Seafarers International Union, Crowley Liner Services and Intermarine LLC are working closely with the U.S. Department of State to obtain the safe release of the officers and crew aboard the U.S.-flagged heavy-lift ship Ocean Atlas, which is under detention by the Venezuelan government in the port of Maracaibo.

The ship's captain, a member of our union, is being held ashore without charge, and the remaining 14 officers and crewmembers are confined to the vessel. AMO represents the engine and deck officers on the Ocean Atlas, and the SIU represents the crew. Crowley manages and operates the vessel for Intermarine.

Reliable reports indicate that all of the ship's personnel are in good health, and that there is no mistreatment of the captain or others. We are withholding the names of the captain, the engine and deck officers and the crew to protect their families' privacy.

This is a coordinated diplomatic effort. AMO, the SIU, Crowley and Intermarine are in frequent contact with the State Department in Washington, with the U.S. Consulate in Maracaibo and with the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. The unions and the companies confer daily on the situation, and they have spoken with the families of the ship's officers and crew.

AMO will not comment publicly on the sensitive circumstances that led to the official detention of the Ocean Atlas in Venezuela or speculate on the possible outcome of this unfortunate, difficult situation. The State Department is engaged fully in this case, in Washington and on the scene in Venezuela. We do not want to compromise delicate negotiations or jeopardize the ship's civilian American complement.

Our immediate priority is the return of the vessel's officers and crew, unharmed and at the earliest practical opportunity. Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with the mariners and families involved.

Tom Bethel
National President

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