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Samho captain`s orders proved critical to rescue

Posted February. 06, 2011 10:53,   


The orders of Seok Hae-kyun, the captain of the Korean freighter Samho Jewelry that was hijacked by Somali pirates on Jan. 15, conveyed on a piece of paper played a critical role in the rescue of the ship`s crew on Jan. 21.

Collaboration with boatswain Kim Du-chan, 61, and chef Chung Sang-hyun, 57, was also crucial to the success of the rescue. The two helped divert the pirates` attention and conveyed Seok`s note to other crew members.

Maritime police and the rescued crew members said Saturday that the pirates forced the three to stand outside of the steering house to serve as shields in case helicopters flew above or unfavorable signs appeared near the ship.

Seok, Kim and Chung had to stand in that order and were prohibited from talking. This was the pirates` attempt to block the captain from giving orders.

After the hijacking, Seok ordered his crew not to go to Somalia. To delay the ship from leaving, he also broke the wheel and manipulated coordinates by exploiting the pirates` inability to read sea maps.

After the botched first rescue attempt on Jan. 18 by the Korean destroyer Choi Young, Seok was locked up but escaped surveillance and gave orders to Kim and Chung using notes and books.

One order said, "Stop the ship. If this is impossible, set a small fire on board," which was delivered to the first officer and an engineer. The captain issued that order since even a small fire could cause the explosion of a CO2 container, leading to a halt in engine operations.

Seok also ordered the pullout of engine pistons, the breaking of an electronic wheel or an emergency steering house, or a breakdown of a generator`s distributing board. To avoid detection by the pirates, he tossed a book containing the orders to the two, saying, "Try to read a book."

Kim, who had delivered the captain`s orders to crew members by pretending to go to a restroom or dressing room, was assaulted by the pirates after the first rescue attempt.

The pirates blamed Kim for their failure to hijack a Mongolian ship because they said he gave the Korean Navy more time to attack the pirates by intentionally tilting a boat carrying the pirates to let in water when he lowered the boat with a crane.

With surveillance on Kim stepped up, Chung took the baton. When the pirates stopped giving food to Seok and Kim, Chung pleaded with the pirate in charge of cooking to feed the two.

When the second rescue attempt was underway, Chung, who was forced to stand at the fore as a human shield, confronted the pirates and told Kim, "We should rescue the captain."

Chung then encouraged the ship`s crew members.

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