Drama of arrested in Mexico bulk carrier’s crew

July 29, 2019: Cocaine found in unusual place – in cargo hold loaded with ore
Mexican law enforcement agency on Jul 28 reported cocaine bust on board of US bulk carrier UBC SAVANNAH, docked at Altamira port, Mexico, Gulf of Mexico. The ship arrived from Barranquilla, Colombia, on Jul 23, and was thoroughly checked, 227 packages weighing 225 kilos were found in rather unusual place, in cargo hold, buried in cargo of ore. No news on crew complicity, hopefully there’s none.
Bulk carrier UBC SAVANNAH, IMO 9220976, dwt 31923, built 2000, flag Cyprus, manager UNITED BULK CARRIERS USA.

Drama of bulk carrier crew – arrested, no charges yet and no trial, kept in inhuman conditions:
Aug 17: The story is going on without any light in the end of the tunnel. Crew is Filipino with 3 senior officers, including Master, being Polish nationals. All were arrested. On the night Jul 26-27 Master of UBC SAVANNAH ordered immediate stop to all cargo operations and to close holds, when informed by crew, that suspicious packages were found in hold deck during offloading of cargo. He duly informed local authorities. On Jul 27 the ship was boarded by law enforcement personnel and authorities, but no crew were arrested, for the time being. They were arrested, all crew, some two days later. Their cabins were searched, all their personal belongings including money were seized, without issuing any search warrants. All crew are kept, since, in one cell, excluding Master, who’s locked in a single cell.
No information on trial date, meanwhile the crew management company warned, that it may take two years to process all formalities required for trial. People are locked in a cell with daytime temperature around 40C degrees. The only authority trying to do something and to ease crew’s sufferings is Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How many seafarers are locked in prisons, are convicted, or on trial, globally, annually or at any given time? How many of them are innocent? How many of them spent years in prisons, being absolutely innocent? How many convictions and arrests are fakes, fabricated by drug enforcement agencies, simply to improve their “success” records? Where are studies on one of most serious problems of modern shipping, problem of being arrested and convicted on false charges?
Where are maritime organizations, where are herds of do-gooders, where are industry “elites”? Ah, yes, they’re very busy bridging “gender gap”, or studying seafarers’ happiness, or their mental health, or rest/work hours, or fighting “climate change”, or eagerly looking for some substandard ship owner who delayed wages, to attack him by all their pack. They do anything to do nothing real, let alone fighting real problems, because such fight may set them on collision course with national or international authorities. No perks in cases like UBC SAVANNAH crew case, no profits, no positive publicity (if any at all), nothing but a lot of trouble. They didn’t sign for troubles and risks when they enter do-good business, you see.



My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.