Chief Cook on Hijacked Maersk Alabama: Sues Ship Owner

April 28, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Richard E. Hicks, chief cook of the Hijacked Maersk Alabama is suing the cargo ship’s owner alleging it ignored requests to improve safety procedures for vessels sailing in pirate infested waters off the coast of Somalia. Hicks sued ship owner Maersk Line Limited and Waterman Steamship Corp., which staffed the ship with crew members, claiming both companies knowingly put Hicks and other seamen in danger.

Fifty-three year old Hicks has worked for 32 years travelling the globe as a merchant seaman. He never believed after all those years safely sailing on merchant ships, his ship would be hijacked by pirates. He is seeking at least $75,000 in monetary damages from each company, because he doesn’t believe he can continue working as a merchant seaman. Hicks also hopes his lawsuit will help make conditions safer for other seamen.

Although Hicks said he received pirate training from the companies he is suing, he said that’s not enough to protect sailors from heavily armed pirates. He claims he attended monthly safety meetings, where sailors’ safety suggestions fell on deaf ears. Hicks asked for certain safety measures to be implemented, including barbed wire on ships to block pirates from boarding and allowing crew to be armed.

Some interesting details emerged from his lawsuit. Pirates tried to hijack the Maersk Alabama twice, before they were successful in boarding the cargo ship on April 8. During the first two attempts, the Maersk outran the determined pirates. When the ship was hijacked, Captain Phillips sounded the alarm and the crew, including Hicks locked themselves in the stifling hot engine room for 12 hours.

Captain Phillips gave himself up as a hostage to the pirates to save the crew members and the ship’s cargo. It took Navy Seal sharpshooters to kill the pirates holding Capt. Phillips before he was freed.

After the hijacking of the U.S. flagged Maersk and other ships travelling off the cost of Somalia, sailors have asked to be armed to ptotect themselves from the gun toting pirates. As the pirate hijackings increase, putting human lives and valuable cargo in peril, ship owners may need to provide greater safety for seamen.



2 Responses to “Chief Cook on Hijacked Maersk Alabama: Sues Ship Owner”

  1. Bill clinton on April 28th, 2009 1:10 am

    And what kind of engine room was it?
    It was a “stifling hot” engine room.
    Oh I see. And where did you get this information from?
    What a load of bunk

  2. Daniel on May 5th, 2009 6:34 pm

    Although I’m not sure about the substance of the lawsuit itself (as to how much thought the company put into safety precautions), it makes an important point. Companies that do business in dangerous waters must go to more lengths unless they enjoy being the target of pirate attacks. This is a battle between companies (the merchants vs. the pirates) and so far the merchants (or at least their companies) don’t seem to have taken it all that seriously.

    For those interested, there are a couple videos at covering the piracy issue from when it first hit mainstream media to today (the most recent is at but you can find others in their archive).

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