Updated Sept. 10, 12:24 p.m.
We are pleased to confirm that charges have been dropped against the vessel and crew and the Master has been returned to the vessel. We continue to work cooperatively with the Venezuelan authorities on some administrative matters, which, when completed, will permit the vessel and crew to depart the port.
The SIU has been working closely with the U.S. State Department, our affiliated union the American Maritime Officers, Crowley Liner Services, and Intermarine LLC to ensure the safety, proper treatment and prompt release of the crew members and officers of the American-flag ship Ocean Atlas. As has been widely reported, the ship and its mariners are being detained by the Venezuelan government in the port of Maracaibo. (The SIU represents the unlicensed seafarers on the Ocean Atlas; AMO represents the licensed officers.)
We are in regular contact with the crew and their families as well as with the U.S. Consulate in Maracaibo and the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. While we are anxious for a resolution that allows the safe departure of the SIU and AMO members, we encourage all concerned parties to be patient and to respect Venezuela’s systems and processes. At the same time, we are confident that the Ocean Atlas has followed all proper procedures and protocols, and deserves to be released.
Understandably, we have received numerous media inquiries about the Ocean Atlas. Due to the unusual circumstances of this case and the multi-faceted, ongoing diplomatic efforts surrounding it, our union will not offer any additional public comment other than this statement until we are certain that such remarks won’t jeopardize the proceedings.
We thank everyone who has expressed concern for the wellbeing of the mariners and we ask that you join us in continuing to keep these outstanding American seafarers in your thoughts and prayers. We will continue working with all of the aforementioned organizations until this situation is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.