Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Respiratory Failure Named Tentative Cause of Deaths of 2 Former US SEALs Aboard The "Capt. Philips Ship", MARESK ALABAMA 

Updated 7:54 am, Monday, February 24, 2014   http://www.seattlepi.com/news/science/article/Respiratory-failure-named-in-deaths-of-2-US-SEALs-5262197.php 

 Photo U.S. Navy

According to BBC news reports two former U.S. Navy SEAL security officers on the container ship MARESK ALABAMA who were found dead aboard last week apparently died of "respiratory failure after suspected heart attacks". The MAERSK  ALABAMA was made famous after the kidnapping from it of Captain Phillips, and the subsequent movie by that name in which the actual ship was used in the filming. We find it strange that two physically fit men in their forties both died of heart attacks within minutes of each other on the same ship, in the same compartment. We have seen such events before associated with entering long sealed compartments that have become oxygen depleted due to rust. The early press coverage indicated that the deaths were not related to the men's security duties and that there was no "evidence of foul play". Those two facts are what we'd expect at the scene of a compartmental entry mishap.

 We don't doubt that they died of respiratory failure, or that shorty after they stopped breathing that their hearts failed. Notice, that we think the actual order of physical events is that their breathing stopped and then their hearts failed, no one breaths after their heart has come to a complete stop..  What was reported at first was  exactly what we'd expect if they entered an oxygen depleted compartment. Seychelles police have indicated that drugs may be involved because "a syringe and traces of heroin were found in the cabin".

 Compartment vs cabin; that is our first disconnect between proper maritime terminology and what may be a lack of nautical vocabulary among the police investigators, and news reporters. What do they mean by "found in the cabin" when speaking of the syringe and heroin traces. Certainly both men were quartered in a cabin or cabins (one each?) but is that where their bodies were found, in a cabin? Or, were the syringe and heroin traces found in a cabin associated with one or both of the deceased. We haven't found any news accounts that describe exactly what type of compartment the men were found in.

 A cabin is a Compartment, but so is a void. A cabin is a compartment that by definition is suitable for human habitation, thus ventilated and highly unlikely to be subject to oxygen depletion. Where were Mark Daniel Kennedy 43 and Jeffery Keith Reynolds 44, found in a cabin or a compartment, if a compartment what type of compartment? Where exactly were the syringe and the heroin traces found? Were the syringe and heroin traces near the bodies in the same compartment, or in a cabin associated with at least one of them?  Either the police statements to the media aren't specific enough or the reporters aren't reporting accurately, but these questions have to be answered. From the reporting we've found so far we can't tell if the two bodies, and the syringe and heroin traces were all found in the same cabin, or the bodies were found in one compartment and later the syringe and heroin traces were found in a cabin associated with one or both security officers.

 Some very different potential scenarios become possibilities depending on which of these two sets of circumstances apply. If the bodies, drug traces and paraphernalia were all found in a single cabin one possibility might be an accidental overdose by two Security officers who were secretly addicts. Another possibility is that the drug traces and drug paraphernalia were evidence that the two security officers were examining when they were assaulted by persons unknown who somehow managed to suffocate them without a struggle.(Two perpetrators acting in concert could discharge very large co2 fire extinguishers into the faces of the intended victims then finish up and insure fatal results with plastic bags over their heads. .   If the officers were found in a non ventilated compartment the most likely culprit is oxygen depletion. Once that compartment was opened at some point after the officer's deaths the air exchange from the now opened void and the ventilated parts of the ship would have allowed those who discovered the bodies some time later to enter without hazard. The drug traces and paraphernalia if found in their cabin(s) may be immaterial to the cause of death. It troubles us that in the public accounts of the event it is not clear at all what type of compartment the bodies were found in and if the syringe and heroin traces were in the same compartment. 

 If the bodies and the heroine related evidence were all in a compartment subject to potential oxygen depletion such as a void it is possible that someone with compartmental entry training entered the compartment with breathing apparatus prior to the entry by the security officers who were given some reason to investigate the compartment, but not being trained in the oxygen depletion hazard simply open the compartment from a ventilated space, spot the drug "evidence' and go towards it deeper into the the seriously oxygen depleted atmosphere. Respiratory distress would occur in less than 30 seconds and unconsciousness  seconds later. Brain death would be in about six minutes.  Maybe 15 or 20 minutes later someone comes along in the ventilated passageway and notices the watertight door open or the cover plate removed and two bodies within. By this time the compartment has aired out and all of the investigating personnel come and go from the compartment with no problem. But just about a quarter hour before the atmosphere in the same compartment was deadly. Quite an elaborate ambush by someone with a serious knowledge of ship compartmentalization. Perhaps the two security officers had been on the trail of a crewman addict who decided to end their investigation.. Facing two trained and experienced ex Navy SEALS, the perpetrator wasn't likely to be able to physically assault either one of them and quickly throw them overboard. That is more likely the case in cruise ship rape cases where the perpetrator is a big burly crew member and the victim a 110 pound woman.

 To our inquiring minds nothing is making sense that is making it into the media.  The deceased,  Mark Daniel Kennedy, 43, and Jeffrey Keith Reynolds, 44, were found dead on 18 February as the ship was berthed in Port Victoria, the capital of the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles. Both men were employed by the US-based Trident Group, which was founded in 2000 by former US Navy Seals and recruits former special forces operatives. All U.S. military personnel including special operatives are subject to random drug testing. The U.S. armed forces today are nothing like the services of the 1960s, drug use is not common, and strictly suppressed. Of all of the people in the military, special forces personnel, especially middle aged former or retired personnel, are probably the least likely to be drug abusers. Meanwhile the Seychelles police are checking out the possibility that the men may have ingested something that caused breathing cessation. But if that answer comes back affirmative was their ingestion voluntary? 

 Meanwhile a week after the event the news accounts still don't tell us with any specificity any of the details that allow any of these and other possibilities to be eliminated. If we simply knew if the bodies were found in a "cabin" or a ventilated compartment we might be able to eliminate the oxygen depleted long closed compartment theory, the single most common cause for finding unexplained multiple bodies aboard ship. Again we have no idea if the police aren't communicating with the media adequately or the media just doesn't "get it". For the sake of the families of the deceased and the security of other Maersk line personnel we hope what we are seeing is not a sign of investigative incompetency, or lack of "due diligence",but just inadequate journalism.

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