10th July 2017
Sea captain’s wife appeals for release of husband after container ship is seized
The wife of the Ukrainian sea captain held in Greek prison has joined Lumar SA in calling on Greek authorities to release him and the crew of the Maltese flagged container vessel, Mekong Spirit. The captain has spent six weeks in Athens prison, while his 16 crew have been detained aboard the vessel at Souda Bay Naval Base, Crete.
Captain Sergii Nevecheria (61), from Ukraine was detained on 23 May by Greek authorities whilst transiting Greek waters en route to the Suez Canel. Soon after a port call at Izmir, Turkey, the ship under his command 12,380dwt Mekong Spirit, was seized by the Hellenic Coastguard who escorted the vessel to Souda Bay Naval Base, Crete. Nevecheria has 40 years’ experience at sea including 25 years as captain and has never before been accused of any wrong doing.
Greek authorities allege that Nevecheria failed to inform them of the IMO controlled cargo on board and allege that the cargo of mining explosives and hunting/sport rifle cartridges destined for Port Sudan were in violation of UN and EU sanctions.
The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) requires that Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) be alerted about the transport of IMO controlled cargo. The Mekong Spirit has all mandatory ship reporting systems and fully complied with all reporting requirements. There were no VTS points on the vessel’s route between departure from Izmir and interception by the Hellenic Coastguard and she did not call at any Greek ports; therefore, no reports were required or reasonably possible.
All cargo destined for Port Sudan was part of a legitimate commercial transaction between companies operating in Turkey and Sudan and none of these companies are restricted by any sanctions. Lumar have submitted corporate documents, end user certificates and import licenses to the courts for both the shipper in Turkey and the receiver in Sudan.
Valentina Nevecheria, the captain’s wife, is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of her husband, after nearly two months in prison.
“My husband was sailing past Greek islands having just joined the ship, and finds himself in prison waiting for a trial that could be many months away,” says, Valentina Nevecheria. “My husband is very proud of how he runs his ships. He would never do anything that would harm anyone. He has been held in horrible conditions in a prison cell for six weeks without having any chance to prove his innocence.
“This whole escapade is absurd – my husband is in prison for turning up and doing his job. The injustice is sickening.”
Boris Lunoff, at Lumar SA, said:
“This ship is chartered out to Varamar. All documentation and import permits for their cargo are in hand. We have cooperated fully with Greek authorities and provided all relevant cargo manifests to show that the vessel’s cargo of mining explosives and hunting rifle cartridges was for civil use and complied fully with all relevant UN and EU regulations and sanctions.
“Our Captain Sergii Nevecheria has been held in custody since 23 May and we have been working to secure his release. As we have seen no progress we have made the decision to go public and draw attention to the situation.
“We appeal to the Greek authorities to release Captain Nevacheria without further delay so that he is able to re-join his crew and ship – or at least allow him to move to house arrest. The captain’s incarceration and the detention of our vessel and 16 crew is a serious infringement of international maritime law.”
Following their training and shipboard procedures, the crew are monitoring the cargo on board. The Greek Navy has not allowed the vessel to connect to shore power and has severely restricted access to fuel to keep the vessel’s systems running. Lumar is working to provide basic provisions to the crew, but authorities are blocking many items including cigarettes for the crew.
Mr. Lunoff concluded: “Despite the unnecessary challenges and unacceptable detention of our vessel, we are proud of the professionalism of our crew which has ensured the vessel and cargo remain safe.”
– ENDS –
Notes for editors:
Lumar SA is a ship management company based in Switzerland with a commercial office in Barcelona, Spain and technical, marine and crewing offices in Tallin, Estonia.
The company was founded 1994 to provide deep-sea transport of aluminium and non-ferrous metals between Baltic States.
Lumar SA currently operates a fleet of two container feeder vessels (1000TEU) and two coasters (4000 dwt) mainly trading on the time charter market with first class reputable operators.
The Mekong Spirit, a 12,380dwt container vessel built in 1996 and registered in Malta, remains detained at the naval base in Crete with her cargo and crew of 16 effectively under house arrest on board.