(Excerpted Content taken from AP News ) The company that owns the Maersk Alabama, a freighter targeted by pirates twice in seven months, did not heed a request to rename, repaint or reroute the ship after the first attack off the coast of Africa in the spring, former crew members say.
Ex-crewmen John Cronan (client of SMSH) and Shane Murphy said in separate interviews Wednesday that they feared and anticipated another attack after the ordeal in April when their captain was taken hostage but eventually freed by U.S. Navy SEALs.
The American-flagged ship was targeted again Wednesday, but private security guards thwarted the attempt by firing guns and blaring a high-decibel noise device. The ship is proceeding under American surveillance to its destination on the Kenyan coast.
“Obviously she’s a hot target,” said Cronan, of suburban Philadelphia. “The bad guys were laying in wait for her.”
Cronan and several other crewmen have filed suit in Texas against Maersk Line Ltd. and Waterman Steamship Corp., alleging the companies were negligent in sending the ship into known pirate territory with inadequate protection.
The men are seeking compensation for physical and psychological damage they say they suffered during the spring hijacking, and for loss of income.
The suit was filed by one crew member last month in Houston, with other plaintiffs added this month.
Crewmen shared their safety concerns in meetings with Maersk before the ship was attacked in April, but the company did not take sufficient security measures.
Cronan and Murphy were on the Maersk Alabama when pirates hijacked it the first time and took Capt. Richard Phillips, of Underhill, Vt., hostage. Navy SEAL sharpshooters freed Phillips while killing three pirates in a daring nighttime attack.
Murphy, speaking Wednesday at a news conference at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne, said he told Maersk officials that the Alabama should be renamed, repainted or sent to ply another route because pirates would continue to target it.
“It was my recommendation to take that ship off the run or change the name or do something,” said Murphy, of Seekonk, Mass. “Because, honestly, we have to realize that American seamen are not going to be treated like the rest of the world if they’re caught.”
Cronan recalled that Maersk officials said such changes would require too much paperwork.
After arriving back home in Merion, Pa., Cronan said he turned down an offer to return to the ship with a promotion.
“What about the next crew? We got lucky and we were able to – all 20 of us – get home safely,” Cronan said. “The next guys might not be so lucky. It’s not a matter of if, but when.”
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