Maersk has suspended five officers and crew, pending the outcome of an investigation following allegations of rape on board a Maersk ship.
A blog-post on the website of non-profit legal advocacy organisation Maritime Legal Aid & Advocacy (MLAA) by a female member of the class of 2022 at the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) alleges that she was raped by a 60+ year-old 1st Engineer.
Maersk has issued a statement, noting: “We are deeply disturbed by the allegation of assault on our vessel and want to express our heartfelt support for the anonymous individual who has recently shared her story. A Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) investigation is taking place.”
The Danish company added: “It is our first priority to find out what happened and make sure that broader actions are taken. All elements in this story goes against our values and everything we believe in as a company.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure that all of our workplaces, including vessels, are safe and welcoming. We have strict and explicit policies in place, and we will now examine all processes with critical eyes to understand how they can be improved.”
In the blog-post, the anonymous cadet, who was 19 at the time of the incident, claims that each one of the 50 women in her USMMA class have been “sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, or degraded at some point during the last three years at the Academy or during Sea Year”.
She noted that out of her class of approximately 50 women, at least 5 women were forcibly raped during Sea Year.
In a detailed account of the incident, the cadet revealed a culture of alcohol abuse and a difficult work environment where a “creepy” 1st Assistant Engineer regularly made sexist comments towards her in front of others.
She also noted that when later applying to become a Certified Victim’s Advocate (VA), she was interviewed by Jack Buomo, the USMMA’s superintendent, who seemed oblivious of the scale of the problem.