Freighter Sevastopol intercepted by Indian CG in international waters. Is it legal?
General cargo vessel Sevastopol was intercepted by Indian Coast Guard after 11-hour chase, involving patrol plane, in international waters in Arabian sea some 110 nm off Mumbai coast on Feb 17. Vessel was under arrest by the Madras high court since Feb 13, in a process of commercial dispute between owner and an Indian company, details of a dispute unknown. Vessel fled Mumbai road at around 0100 LT Feb 17 switching off AIS and navigational lights, ordered to do so by the owner. Indian Coast Guard launched chase, vessel stopped after being threatened of using force. Sevastopol was taken back to Mumbai road. On a photo
In 2009 a Chinese freighter fled Nakhodka port, Russia, Japan sea, being ordered to do so by a Chinese owner. The only violation was, vessel sailed from Nakhodka without the formalities. An owner was sued by a Russian company, a cargo receiver, which found some 200-300 tons of rice to be damaged by seawater. Local courts rejected the detention plea and said vessel was free to leave. But the offended Russian company was very powerful, so it contacted right persons in Moscow, right persons ordered Coast Guard, Coast Guard sent a destroyer, which intercepted the hapless freighter in international waters, and sunk her by shell-fire, killing in the process half of the crew. The scandal was hushed up, the heroes – several CG commanders, were secretly awarded with medals for their outstanding bravery. Russia created a precedent of intercepting foreign merchant vessel in international waters. Lawyers are to decide if it’s legal. It seems to be illegal, if you ask me, as long as intercepted vessel doesn’t carry any real threat to other vessels, people on board or environment. Such States as Russia, India or Nigeria may develop a habit out of such precedents, and it’s almost impossible to ascertain if the owner was really guilty or forced by a local company “with connections above” to pay “fine” or “compensation” on a dubious pretext.