Master of Panamax container ship killed by crew UPDATES

Apr 19 UPDATE:
Both The Attorney General’s Office of Cartagena, and The General Directorate of Maritime Colombia, announced on Apr 18, that they will carry out the investigation of ship’s Master death. His body was found at around 1700 LT Apr 16 on reportedly, main deck, while the ship was berthed. Colombian authorities therefore, are now legally responsible for conducting investigation and all respective actions which may come necessary, to find culprits and pursue justice.

UPDATE: Crew includes Burmese nationality and 2 Ethiopians. According to leaked crew information and Managers Zeaborn Ship Management, Master was killed by intruder or intruders. According to Colombian authorities, Master was killed by crew member or members. Colombian authorities not surprisingly, don’t want to investigate homicide and take the responsibility: “Under UNCLOS, any crime aboard Spirit of Hamburg would fall under the jurisdiction of her flag state, which will have primary responsibility for the investigation, prosecutors said”. Management and crew, on the other hand, are interested in “intruders” version. Situation is rather complicated, because if Colombian authorities refuse to investigate, then official investigation will be, technically, a big, nearly unsolvable, problem.

A statement in relation to the tragic incident in Cartagena
Hamburg, 18 April 2020, 0720 hours – Managers Zeaborn Ship Management regret to advise that in the afternoon of 16 April 2020 one of its valued seafarers of its managed container vessel Spirit of Hamburg has suffered fatal injuries following what is believed to be a violent incident with an intruder onboard the ship in the port of Cartagena, Colombia.
Zeaborn Shipmanagement would like to express its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the seafarer. The next of kin of the crew member have been notified and will be offered full support in this very difficult time. The crew of Spirit of Hamburg will be receiving psychological help following the tragic death of their colleague.
Immediately after the incident all relevant authorities and parties have been notified. Representatives of the company have arrived in Cartagena for further support to the crew. The exact circumstances of the violent incident are yet unknown and police have started an official investigation into the events and conducted interviews with the crew of Spirit of Hamburg. In order to not interfere with the investigation of the local police Zeaborn Shipmanagement will refrain from making any further statements at this stage.
Authorities in Colombia have meanwhile granted permission for the vessel to move from berth to inner anchorage.
Zeaborn Ship Management is aware of social media reports circulating that the crew would be of Filipino nationality. This is incorrect. We would like to add that three senior officers are one month beyond their contractual relief date, but they are showing great professionalism in making the best of the current relief/repatriation restrictions. All other crew are due for relief between now and October.

Comment: Some dozen news outlets of Columbia and Central/South America countries already published the news, all of them referring to, and citing, officials. Some of them mentioned Filipino crew, some didn’t, but it wasn’t social media which first mentioned Filipino nationality. All the local news outlets insist there was a conflict on board, again not out of thin air, but referring to the officials. Some links to local and regional news outlets:
https://www.rcnradio.com/colombia/caribe/asesinan-capitan-de-un-buque-con-banderas-de-hamburgo-en-la-bahia-de-cartagena
https://www.wradio.com.co/noticias/regionales/asesinan-al-capitan-de-una-embarcacion-de-bandera-birmana/20200417/nota/4031531.aspx
https://www.laprensagrafica.com/internacional/Tripulacion-de-barco-aleman-asesina-a-su-capitan-en-aguas-de-Cartagena-20200417-0034.html
https://portalportuario.cl/capitan-de-buque-de-hamburg-sud-muere-tras-rina-con-su-tripulacion-en-aguas-colombianas/
There was absolutely no mistake on my part, I published what I knew and I expressed my doubts, citing the source of the news. Later I published updates, closely monitoring the development. Somehow, Philippines maritime community took it as an insult, defamation, fake news and hate speech, just short of terrorism. I understand I can’t mention Filipino seamen in connection with anything negative, be information right or wrong. From now on, I won’t, ever, mention nationality of Philippines seamen, whatever the story will be, positive or negative, romantic or dramatic, heroic or tragic. I’ll simply define it as “nationality which I can’t mention”.
A few words to Philippines maritime community, about FAKE NEWS:
Why don’t you blame your Manila Times for publishing this: https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/04/16/business/columnists-business/an-industry-that-deserves-to-die-2/714593/ Thanks to NOT FAKE NEWS published by majors, including Manila Times, thousands and tens of thousands of seamen including Filipino, will lose their jobs in cruise industry, in very near future. Thanks to NOT FAKE NEWS, pandemic paranoia already idled many ships and will idle much more, and many more seamen will be out of job.
There are so many things around which really hurt you and your families, and threaten your jobs. Things which no mainstream media, including industry, even mention, because it’s taboo and not in the agenda.
But you attack and accuse me, not them. You’re proud of your reputation, I’m proud of mine. I may make mistakes here and there, but I never make FAKE NEWS. Shame on you.

UPDATE: Latest updates from Colombia leave out nationality of crew members who allegedly, killed Master in the afternoon Apr 16, but Cartagena Attorney General’s Office in official statement to local media confirmed the crime was committed by crew members, not by outsiders.

Master of container ship SPIRIT OF HAMBURG, docked at Cartagena Colombia, was reportedly, killed by crew on board, understood on Apr 16, or during the night Apr 16-17, according to local news radio station RCN Radio. Radio was told by the police, that there was conflict between 12 Filipino crew and 51-year old Burmese Captain, which ended up in a fight. Police so far, aren’t sure as to how it all happened, because there are language problems and discrepancies between seamen narrative and facts police already has.
If confirmed this tragic accident leaves us with most important questions – what triggered conflict and murder, and is it related to coronavirus mess, crew change delays, and growing tension among crew members?
Container ship SPIRIT OF HAMBURG, IMO 9391660, dwt 53139, capacity 3630 TEU, built 2007, flag Isle of Man, manager RICKMERS SHIPMANAGEMENT GMBH.

Author

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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.