The interesting and disturbing news that the “COSCO BUSAN CREW DETAINED WITHOUT CHARGES” raises the concern that it can happen to U.S. mariners too. Asian jails are not comfortable.The fact the Captain and six crew members are available for testimony is encouraging as they may be able to fill in the blanks (Who was directing the navigation of the vessel when it allided with D tower, etc?), but the process is deplored. Regardless of nationality, innocent mariners should not be detained without proper process.
The need for facts is recognized and the availability of the COSCO BUSAN‘s Captain and some crew members is necessary to obtain their statements, although the validity may be questioned. It would appear the accusers were unable to obtain legal process to depose key persons and therefore resorted to processes that are not appropriate and certainly not acceptable by international standards.
However, sometimes there is more than the printed story. Is it possible that the detention is mutually agreeable? Is it possible the Captain and his mates agree to this? ( A trip to Disney Land would sway me) Or maybe the PRC has more pressing business (Tibet), or the owners find it cheaper to let the U.S. pickup the food and berthing rather than transport them back and forth for hearings and trials?
John Denham is a retired USN Captain, Licensed unlimited Master and Pilot, maritime academy teacher,and author with extensive experience as a marine consultant. He is also author of The Assistant and DD 891.