Thursday, February 11, 2010

Danish Government Assists Forlorn Crew Of Abandoned Freight Vessel

Seafarers Union Body Successfully Negotiates Release of Three Crewmen
Shipping News Feature

DENMARK – The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), who represent over 750 unions with in excess of four and a half million members, have negotiated the release and repatriation of three sailors from their virtual imprisonment aboard a freight vessel moored in the port of Frederiksvaerk, in the north of the country, and which first arrived there on the 22nd November.

The men signed on for the voyage with the vessels captain and owner in August last year who, after paying their wages up to September then returned to Rostock in his native Germany in order to refinance and pay for registration of the MV “Cormorant” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the ship previously sailing under the flag of the Cook Islands from where it had been deregistered. The new registration was completed in January but the captain had already relieved the men, two Ghanaians and a Russian, of their passports and personal belongings, before he left and these were never returned, leaving the trio stranded and poverty stricken on an empty vessel with no power.

The unfortunate troupe were then charged with being in Denmark illegally and threatened with deportation plus a ban from Denmark and a Europe wide criminal record, effectively taking away their future livelihoods. During their months of incarceration they were dependant entirely on hand outs from local charities such as the Danish Seafarers’ Welfare Council and the ITF fighting fund.

Today we hear that thanks to the efforts made on their behalf they are not only free to leave due to the good grace of the Danish authorities but may even eventually receive back pay when the vessel is sold to pay outstanding bills. The ITF tell us that they made contact with the missing owner once on 4th January when promises of pay were made. Since that time he has refused any further contact leaving the men abandoned and imprisoned.