Captain of the Edison Chouest’s hijacked supply vessel C-Retriever Wren Thomas has filed a lawsuit against Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) and Chevron USA for gross negligence and failure to take appropriate remedial measures to protect its employees from pirates.
According to the lawsuit petition, defendants “knowingly, intentionally and willfully sent their employees, including Captain Thomas into an area where pirates were attacking vessels and specifically targeting ECO vessels” showing “a willful, wanton and conscious disregard for the safety of Captain Thomas and other officers and crew of the C-Retriever. “
C-Retriever was hijacked and its captain and chief engineer kidnapped off Nigeria in October 2013.
Thomas claims that despite several death threats and warnings from pirates before the attack, Chevron and ECO failed to develop a protocol to deal with such attacks and failed to replace their communication systems with more secure lines.
As explained in the lawsuit, C-Retriever was not equipped with a citadel, a specially fortified safe-room on the vessel engineered for protecting officers and crew in the event of a pirate boarding.
“Captain Thomas and the majority of his crew attempted to evade capture by takingrefuge in the vessel’s Bulk Tank Room.
However, after six hours, the pirates were able to breach the room and open gunfire on Captain Thomas and his crew. To avoid loss of
life, Thomas and his engineer were forced to surrender, “ the petition reads.
Captain Thomas was held hostage in a camp in the Nigerian swamps for 18 days where he was subjected to physical torture.
Injuries inflicted during his captivity have prevented Captain Thomas from coming back to his previous job.
ECO paid ransom to pirates to get Thomas and his chief engineer released.
The two companies have not commented on the lawsuit.
World Maritime News Staff