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Cablegate: Meeting with Kaptanoglu Shipping Company

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 001821

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR INL/C/CP-MCAWTHORNE, EB/TRA/OTP-DHAYWOOD AND EUR/SE
DEPT PASS TRANSPORTATION DEPT
ROME FOR ICE
ROTTERDAM FOR LCDR MBEE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EWWT CVIS ETRD PREL KFRD TU
SUBJECT: MEETING WITH KAPTANOGLU SHIPPING COMPANY

REF: A. STATE 258406

B. ANKARA 6764
C. ANKARA 6789

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please Handle Accordingly.

This cable was coordinated with Embassy Ankara

1. (SBU) P/E Chief and Consular Section Chief met on December
7 with H. Ismail Kaptanoglu Ship Management and Trading
Company Managing Director Sadan Kaptanoglu and other company
executives to review Coast Guard security concerns and
possible action against the company. While reiterating that
the company had not received the Coast Guard's September 30
warning letter until it was transmitted by the Foreign
Ministry last week, Kaptanoglu stressed that the company
understands the gravity of the situation, will fully
implement the Coast Guard's requirements, and is
"brainstorming" to determine other ways in which it can
reduce the number of absconders and deserters leaving its
ships. She indicated that the company will prepare and send
a letter to the Coast Guard to this effect on December 7.
Clearly adding to the company's new found sense of urgency is
concern over the planned call by a company vessel-- the H
Cenk Kaptanoglu-- to Corpus Christi on December 20.

2. (SBU) Kaptanoglu was joined by her Deputy General Manager,
Muhsin Divan, her operations manager, Tansel Karademir, and
the company's security officer, Raif Soylerkaya. All
expressed embarrassment about the company's current
predicament, noting that the third generation company, which
controls nearly 10 percent of Turkey's merchant marine, has
been in business for over 100 years. She noted that prior to
the current series of exchanges through the Foreign Ministry,
the company had been preparing a letter to the Coast Guard
regarding the H Hasan Yardim incident, which she described as
a real blow to the company because it had sought to have the
appropriate security measures in place for the vessel's
arrival in Baltimore. She explained, however, that a delay
in processing of the guards in the port resulted in their not
reaching the vessel until after it had berthed, by which time
a number of seamen had slipped away.

3. (SBU) Kaptanoglu and her colleagues attributed the
desertion and absconding problem to Turkey's economic
problems, and also to the fact that it is difficult to find
good seamen (and officers) in Turkey. They had difficulty,
however, in explaining why the problem has affected
Kaptanoglu ships more than other vessels from Turkey, other
than to speculate that because Kaptanoglu vessels engage in
time-chartering rather than regular liner service, the
pressures on crew members are more intense. They noted that
they have sought to build profiles of deserters to guide them
in future crewing decisions, but this has not been helpful
(half of those who jumped ship were married with children,
half single). They have also sought bonds and guarantees
from sailors and their relatives (and are now pursuing the
four November cases in Turkish court), but that this has also
been ineffective. In response to Consular Chief's
observation that a pattern of absconding and deserting from
Kaptanoglu ships (with seven incidents in 15 port calls over
a two year period) could give rise to the impression that
someone inside the company was acting as a facilitator,
Kaptanoglu said she has had the same thought and is reviewing
the company's crewing operation to ensure that this is not
the case.

4. (SBU) As a last resort, Kaptanoglu indicated that she is
examining the possibility of solving the problem by
reflagging the company's ships and using non-Turkish crews,
but that she hopes to exhaust other measures first. Her
father (AK Deputy and Maritime Chamber Managing Council Head,
Cengiz Kaptanoglu) and her uncle (who heads the Turkish
Shipowners' Association) would strongly resist such a move,
she predicted. Currently the company intends to contract
with a single protective agency in the United States that
will handle all security related issues related to
Kaptanoglu's port calls. Up to now, Kaptanoglu has worked
with multiple agencies, which has resulted in coordination
problems. That company would ensure that armed guards meet
the vessel in a timely fashion on December 20 and that they
carry out all the measures required in the September 30
letter.

5. (SBU) Comment: Kaptanoglu is clearly now seized with the
gravity of our security concerns, and aware of the impact
proposed measures will have on company operations. Ms.
Kaptanoglu promised that a letter to the Coast Guard
outlining company actions would be dispatched within 24
hours, and stressed that the company will fully abide by
Coast Guard requirements. End Comment.
ARNETT

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