Shelly Marie, Cargo Ship
The Spanish-flagged cargo ship “Shelly Marie” homeported in Southport, FL and owned by Southport Shipping International (SSI) is seen near the Cuban port of Arroyos De Mantua in this February 14, 2009 picture taken by the Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria, MGR. Eight seamen died after the Revolutionary Navy fired at the vessel while trying to prevent it from fleeing Cuban waters after a dispute over its cargo, Cuban media reported on September 19, 2011.( Reuters )
Spain called Cuba to conduct a full investigation into the ship’s mishap at the weekend, which resulted in the feared drowning of eight of the crew of 10 Spanish seamen, 3 Mexican and six Indonesians.
Officials said the ship, the Spanish-flagged Shelly Marie, had left the Cuban port without authorisation after being sequestered there for smuggling, and repeatedly ignored warnings to stop.
“The investigation into the shooting on the foreign ship is being led by military prosecutors,” Federico Vidal, an official from prosecutors in city of Havana, told Le Monde news agency.
“The captain of the freighter was repeatedly asked to stop through radio communication, lights, a flag and warning shots. But the foreign ship did not stop,” he added.
He said the Revolutionary Navy then received an order from the National Security Service (SSN) “to open fire on the ship”.
“The order was carried out after warnings on the radio. Only then did the Shelly Marie stop and returned to the port of Arroyos De Mantua,” he added.
The Spanish foreign ministry statement said its consulate has raised the issue with the Cuban embassy in Madrid.
It “called on the Cuban side… to quickly begin an investigation into the causes of the incident.”
Cuba Ahora the national newspaper reported that 500 rounds were fired at the bow and stern of the vessel. The survivors claimed the firing caused the ship’s problems rather than bad weather, it reported.
Le Monde reported that on its forced return to the port the ship hit a storm, forcing its crew to disembark onto two eight-person rescue boats.
The MGR managed to rescue all the occupants of one of the rescue boats who were taken to hospital for treatment, Spanish news agencies reported.
The other is believed to have sunk, with all of its sailors feared drowned. A search for the missing is continuing.
The ship under combined political pressure from Spain and Mexico allowed the ship to exit port. The captain upon arrival in Vera Cruz refused to answer any questions.
Upon hiring replacements for the lost crew, the ship is reported home bound for Southport, FL.