Shipping company appeals for the release of container ship captain

The wife of the Ukrainian sea captain Sergii Nevecheria, who is being held in a Greek prison, has joined Lumar SA in calling on Greek authorities to release him and the crew of Maltese-flagged 12,380 dwt container vessel Mekong Spirit.

Nevecheria has spent six weeks in Athens prison; the 16 crew have been detained aboard the vessel at Souda Bay Naval Base, Crete. Nevecheria was detained on May 23rd while transiting Greek waters en route to the Suez Canal. Soon after calling at the port of Izmir, Turkey, the ship was seized by the Hellenic Coastguard, which then escorted the vessel to Souda Bay Naval Base, Crete. The Greek authorities allege that Nevecheria failed to inform them of the IMOcontrolled cargo on board and allege that the cargo of mining explosives and hunting/sport rifle cartridges, destined for Port Sudan, were in violation of UN and EU sanctions.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) requires that Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) be alerted about the transport of IMO controlled cargo. The Mekong Spirit had  all mandatory ship reporting systems and fully complied with all reporting requirements. There were no VTS points on the vessel’s route between departure from Izmir and interception by the Hellenic Coastguard and she did not call at any Greek ports; therefore, no reports were required or reasonably possible, said Lumar, adding that all cargo destined for Port Sudan was part of a legitimate commercial transaction between companies operating in Turkey and Sudan and none of these companies were restricted by any sanctions. Lumar has submitted corporate documents, end user certificates and import licenses to the courts for both the shipper in Turkey and the receiver in Sudan. Valentina Nevecheria, the captain’s wife, said that “this whole escapade is absurd – my husband is in prison for turning up and doing his job.

The injustice is sickening.” Boris Lunoff of Lumar SA, said that “This ship is chartered out to Varamar. All documentation and import permits for their cargo are in hand. We have cooperated fully with Greek authorities and provided all relevant cargo manifests to show that the vessel’s cargo of mining explosives and hunting rifle cartridges was for civil use and complied fully with all relevant UN and EU regulations and sanctions.

Our Captain Sergii Nevecheria has been held in custody since 23 May and we have been working to secure his release. As we have seen no progress we have made the decision to go public and draw attention to the situation.” The Greek Navy has not allowed the vessel to connect to shore power and has severely restricted access to fuel to keep the vessel’s systems running. Lumar is working to provide basic provisions to the crew, but authorities are blocking many items including cigarettes for the crew. Lunoff concluded: “Despite the unnecessary challenges and unacceptable detention of our vessel, we are proud of the professionalism of our crew which has ensured the vessel and cargo remain safe”, Lumar said.