Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cargo Ships Detention Since November Is 'Appalling'

Unions Protest at Inactivity by Flag of Convenience States
Shipping News Feature

UK – The condition of the freighter Most Sky, which has been detained in Birkenhead since the 8th November, has been described as a ‘disgrace’ by UK trade union Nautilus International which claims that inactivity by the vessel’s Turkish owners has caused the continued detention by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The vessel was refused leave to sail on the grounds that there was an unsettled claim for damage to cargo and that the crew had not been paid, there were no proper records kept of working hours and rest periods, insufficient safety procedures and equipment, waste disposal and communication problems and the fact that the crew member tasked with catering duties said he could only cook potatoes.

Nautilus International and International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) inspector Tommy Molloy has been supporting the crews since the situation arose and intervened last November to recover owed wages and secure repatriation for eight crew members on the ship, following its detention. Molloy said that crewmembers had lodged a long list of complaints, including the fact that they had not been paid. Two of the crewmembers had to be treated in hospital; another had pointed out moisture running down the bulkhead to his bunk.

Molloy said:

“His bed and bedding were sodden, the plight of the crew raises broad questions about who is actually responsible for the wellbeing of the crew when a vessel is detained due to the glaring lack of responsibility shown by the owner. The onus seems to fall on agencies here in the UK when a ship arrives in one of our ports in such an appalling condition, whereas I believe the flag state should be taking more responsibility.”

Claims have been lodged with the admiralty marshal on behalf of three crew members and Molloy is now pressing the authorities for urgent action to ensure appropriate care and protection for the mixed nationality seafarers onboard the 3,349dwt Panama-registered ship who, he says, have effectively been abandoned by the ship’s Turkish owners. Molloy continued:

“There are good grounds for serious concern over the physical and mental health of some of the seafarers. Some of the crew want to go home, but they are worried sick about the prospect of returning without any wages. The plight of the crew raises broad questions about who – in the absence of goodwill from the local community, charities and the unions – is actually responsible for the wellbeing of the crew when a vessel is detained due to the glaring lack of responsibility shown by the owner.”