MT Maro crew freed after two years in prison

The 11-strong crew of the MT Maro have finally been released after being held for two years in a Nigerian prison, says Sailors’ Society, which is Drew Marine Signal & Safety’s adopted charity.

Revd Boet van Schalkwyk, a chaplain for the international maritime charity, has been working with the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board of Nigeria (NSWBN) in supporting the seafarers, who were accused of straying into Nigerian waters without permission.

Boet says, “Sailors’ Society is greatly relieved to hear that the crew have been released after such a traumatic time. We are pleased we could offer our help, alongside the NSWBN, to ensure that the crew has been cared for.”

The ruling was made on June 30 and, after securing emergency travel documents, the crew arrived in Delhi, India early in July to be reunited with their families. 

The seafarers’ ordeal began in July 2014 when the ship’s engine failed and it drifted into Nigerian waters. The Indian crew, with a Nigerian captain, were arrested, accused and imprisoned and there began a series of court battles to prove their innocence.

The families of the MT Maro crew had no idea what had become of their loved ones until communication was finally established in August 2015.

Boet and a fellow chaplain were given the go-ahead to visit the prisoners and were able to offer welfare support and counselling in September 2015. It was the first interaction the crew had had with the outside world since their arrest.

“We were able to provide them with friendship and a listening ear, as well as practical items such as books and money for toiletries. The horror was still there and frustration was high. We wanted to give them hope.”

Boet, who also manages Sailors’ Society’s Crisis Response Centre for seafarers who have experienced trauma, kept in touch with the seafarers and their legal team.

 After a long-running trial the seafarers’ release was finally secured and Sailors’ Society chaplains local to the seafarers will be available to offer support and welfare where required.

Sailors’ Society aims to transform the lives of seafarers and their families at home, in port and at sea through chaplaincy, education and the relief of poverty and distress.

It provides practical, emotional and spiritual welfare support to the world’s 1.5million seafarers, regardless of background or faith. Sailors’ Society chaplains and ship visitors have a presence in 87 global ports, with wider projects and services covering 27 countries.

Sailors’ Society is Drew Marine Signal and Safety’s chosen charity and Global Head of Marketing, Chris Feibusch, is an ambassador for Sailors’ Society.  For more details about the charity, go to
MT Maro crew and lawyer
The image shows MT Maro crew on their release with their lawyer Sandeep Singh.

jul. 19, 2016