DOUBLE STANDARDS SOMALI SEAJACKS 2010~2012
The world is waging war against the pirates of Somalia. Hundreds of warships from all over the globe are patrolling the waters around Somalia to secure their economic and national interests. When you realize 90% of the world's goods are transported over sea, imagine the threat piracy poses to the supply chain of the global economy. We are reminded there is no such thing as free shipping.
Piracy started when the absence of a functioning government in Somali brought foreign fishing trawlers to fish illegally in Somali waters. Trawlers from Europe and Asia fished for yellowfin tuna until Somali fisherman took up arms to protect their declining fish stock. What started as retaliation against illegal fishing, has become a million dollar business with investors from Dubai, with pirates carrying satellite phones and GPS. If you consider the cargo of a full VLCC oil tanker is worth $ 200 million, a $ 3 million ransom for crew and ship doesn’t seem that unreasonable.
Double Standards shows us how the shipping industry has its own ways of defying the law. Investigating the 59 ships that were seajacked between 2010 and 2012, maritime trade reveals its true face. The majority of the world’s commercial ships do not use not their own nationalities, but flags from Panama, Liberia, Antigua Barbuda, or the Marshall islands. These ghost nationalities are used to avoid taxes, and dodge labor- and environmental regulations. This maritime lawlessness and financial opportunism demonstrates the double standards of the countries using military force to protect these practices. A lawlessness not so different from that of the pirates themselves.
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LIST OF THE SEAJACKED SHIPS
|DOUBLE STANDARD||VESSEL NAME||VESSEL TYPE||OFFICIAL NATIONALITY||OWNER NATIONALITY||DATE OF SEAJACK|
|ASIAN GLORY||Vehicle Carrier||United Kingdom||Israel||01/01/2010|
|RIM||General Cargo||North Korea||Libya||02/03/2010|
|AL NISR AL SAUDI||General Cargo||Saudi Arabia||Pakistan||01/03/2010|
|UBT OCEAN||Chemical Tanker||Marshall Islands||Norway||05/03/2010|
|ICEBERG I||RO-RO Cargo||Panama||UAE||29/03/2010|
|SAMHO DREAM||VLCC Tanker||Marshall Islands||South Korea||04/04/2010|
|XIANG HUA MEN||General Cargo||Panama||China||06/04/2010|
|RAK AFRIKANA||General Cargo||St. Vincent and Grenadines||UAE||11/04/2010|
|VOC DAISY||Bulk Carrier||Panama||Greece||21/04/2010|
|MARIDA MARGUERITE||Bulk Carrier||Antiqua Barbuda||Germany||08/05/2010|
|QSM DUBAI||General Cargo||Panama||UAE||02/06/2010|
|GOLDEN BLESSING||Chemical Tanker||Singapore||China||28/06/2010|
|MOTIVATOR||Chemical Tanker||Marshall Islands||Greece||04/07/2010|
|SYRIA STAR||General Cargo||St. Vincent and Grenadines||Syria||05/08/2010|
|OLIB G.||Chemical Tanker||Malta||Greece||08/09/2010|
|ASPHALT VENTURE||Bitumen Tanker||Panama||India||29/09/2010|
|HANNIBAL II||Chemical Tanker||Panama||Tunesia||11/11/2010|
|YUAN XIANG||General Cargo||Panama||China||26/11/2010|
|JAHAN MONI||Bulk Carrier||Bangladesh||India||05/12/2010|
|MSC PANAMA||Container Ship||Liberia||USA||10/12/2010|
|THOR NEXUS||General Cargo||Thailand||China||25/12/2010|
|EMS RIVER||General Cargo||Antigua Barbuda||Germany||27/12/2010|
|SAMHO JEWELRY||Chemical Tanker||Malta||South Korea||15/01/2011|
|HOANG SON SUN||Bulk Carrier||Mongolia*||Vietnam||17/01/2011|
|KHALED MUHIEDINNE K.||Bulk Carrier||Togo||Syria||20/10/2011|
|BELUGA NOMINATION||Heavy Lift Carrier||Antigua Barbuda||Germany||22/01/2011|
|IRENE SL||VLCC Tanker||Greece||Greece||09/02/2011|
|SINAR KUDIS||General Cargo||Singapore||Indonesia||06/03/2011|
|SUSAN K.||General Cargo||Antigua Barbuda||Germany||08/04/2011|
|ROSALIA D’AMATO||Bulk Carrier||Italy||Italy||21/04/2011|
|GEMINI||Product Tanker||Singapore||South Korea||30/04/2011|
|FAIRCHEM BOGEY||Chemical Tanker||Marshall Islands||USA||20/08/2011|
|LIQUID VELVET||Chemical Tanker||Marshall Islands||Greece||31/10/2011|
|ENRICO IEVOLI||Chemical Tanker||Italy||Italy||27/12/2011|
|FREE GODDESS||Bulk Carrier||Liberia||Greece||07/02/2012|
|ROYAL GRACE||Chemical Tanker||Panama||UAE||05/03/2012|
Update: Since the publication of this book in 2012, the crews of 58 ships have been released by ransom or otherwise. Except the MV ALBEDO, of which still 15 members remain in capitivity since 29 November 2011. In July 2013 the ship sank during captivity and it is unknown what happened to the remaining crew. Their families have made a desperate attempt to appeal to the pirates to release the crew. Please support their efforts.
* Landlocked country
Images of the flags used in the book are maritime flags, known as ensigns, which may differ from a country's normal flag image.
ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships, London 2010-2012
Marine Traffic Database, Somaliareport.com, Trade Winds magazine, Ecoterra International, Lloyds Fairplay register, convenientflags.blogspot.nl www.shipspotting.com, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), The Guardian, The New York Times, The Financial Times.
Unmapping the World 2013. Lisbon, Portugal.
Festival d'Affiche, Chaumont France, 2013.
Sandberg Graduation, Amsterdam 2012.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
What started out as an investigation into the Dutch government spending EUR 9 million annually to fight Somali piracy, turned out to reveal a dark side of the maritime world. The Dutch depend heavily on maritime trade with Rotterdam as Europe's largest port, and have a significant interest in oil and gas trade from the Persian Gulf. After Somali pirates started seajacking ships, the Dutch government decided to ensure a continued flow of trade by sending Dutch warships, armed with drones and helicopters, to the Gulf of Aden, and stationing Dutch soldiers on commercial ships. We are not the only ones. Almost every industrialized country has sent navy ships to the area to protect their own trade interests. Annually the world spends 2 billion to fight piracy, which is twice the amount as was spent on aid to fight the famine in the horn of Africa in 2010. As a Dutch national I know more about maritime trade than about Somalia, so I decided to focus on the involvement of the global maritime industry in the conflict.
We should not underestimate the importance of maritime trade, which accounts for 90% of all international trade. Annual turnover of the industry is an estimated $ 8 trillion. 60.000 ships pass Somalia every year, an average of 160 each day. Approximately 15 tankers a day pass through the Straits of Hormuz, carrying about 17 million barrels of crude oil. This represents almost 40% of the world seaborne oil shipments. The stakes are enormous, and the industry has to keep costs down to stay competitive. By using a system called ‘flags of convenience’ the shipowners have found ways to cut corners and stay profitable, but at a very high cost. The way it works is that the majority of commercial ships don't use the owner’s nationality but buy a ‘cheap flag’ from another country. This allows the ship owner to pay little or no taxes, dodge environmental regulations, and underpay the crew. That's how Panama, Marshall islands and Liberia came to host 40% of the worlds entire fleet. If you're a ship, buying a new nationality is a matter of filling in a form and paying some money. Some ships change nationality a few times a year. This makes inspection and regulation extremely difficult.
My research was focused on the ocean faring ships that were ‘seajacked’ by Somali pirates between 2010 and 2012, based on the data by the International Maritime Bureau. Of these 59 ships, only four turned out to use the ships actual nationality. Owner companies were often based in tax havens like the Bahamas, and shell companies were set up for each ship, making it difficult to establish ownership. This lack of transparancy and murky use of nationalities allow all sorts of semi-legal and illegal behavior. In my research stories of fraud, illegal fishing, possible arms trade, and even terrorism surfaced. Several ships directly violated the UN sanctions against Iran. But by far the most common activities are tax dodging and underpaying and maltreatment of the ships’s crews, while certain shippin tycoons are known for their life of luxury and excess. It is the ship’s crew that suffers most in the piracy conflict, some crew being held hostage for several years.
Violent acts like piracy should not and cannot be justified. Crewmembers have been tortured and have died at the hands of the pirates. But it is absurd to think the complex problems that face one of the poorest countries in the world, can be solved by sending warships and soldiers. We should be aware which 'national economic interests' we are sending our military out to secure. Illegality and fraudulent behavior has infected the maritime industry with its flags of convenience, exploiting human labor, and dismissing environmental regulations for financial gain. This project clearly shows the moral voids this system has allowed to exist, virtually without any criticism. Our need for cheap goods transported across continents is more important than a morally just maritime economy. The international community (EU, NATO, UN) not only justifies this behavior, but enforces it using military power.
Double Standards is the 2012 graduation project of Ruben Pater, as the result of the masters of design programme at the Sandberg institute in Amsterdam. All 59 flags and the stories of the ships are collected in a publication, presented with 15 handmade flags, each representing a seajacked ship, and a large map of the global maritime economy. Concept, design and text by Ruben Pater, 2014. Typeset in Monofonto and Arial Monospaced.