Maersk Line Ltd (MLL) has now confirmed that drugs were found in the cabin of two armed guards who died aboard the Maersk Alabama.
The incident is likely to raise new questions about armed anti-piracy personnel as well as safeguards against drugs being brought aboard commercial vessels. Negative publicity could be exacerbated because the deaths occurred aboard the same US-flagged ship that is the subject of the movie ‘Captain Phillips’.
As previously reported by IHS Maritime, the two security guards were contractors employed by Virginia’s Trident Group, hired by MLL to protect the Maersk Alabama as it operated in East Africa’s high-risk feeder trades. The two guards were found dead in a cabin on 18 February when the ship was at berth in Port Victoria, Seychelles.
“The Seychelles police report includes observations about the presence of drugs and paraphernalia in the room where the two security contractors onboard Maersk Alabama were found dead,” admitted MLL senior director Kevin Speers in a statement late on 20 February. “We are working with the Trident Group to ensure the security personnel on Maersk Line Ltd vessels adhere to Maersk’s zero-tolerance policy on the use of drugs and alcohol. Our foremost concern is safety at sea and this policy is in place for all persons aboard Maersk vessels,” affirmed Speers.
Maersk believes the two deaths represent an “isolated incident” but it has now “initiated a thorough review” and announced an “immediate” multi-faceted action plan. First, it will review all security personnel records and background checks to determine if drug testing is current. Second, it will retest armed guards for drug use “where necessary”, Third, it will its audit hiring, training, evaluation and compliance practices. Fourth, it will re-evaluate shore-leave policy.
Concurrently, the Trident Group has agreed to immediately implement a random drug-testing policy.
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