Thursday, September 22, 2016

Young Scottish Students Trapped On Hanjin Vessel in Pirate Infested South China Sea

Mission to Seafarers Offers Help Wherever Possible
Shipping News Feature
SOUTH KOREA – WORLDWIDE – Following its application to the Court to file for bankruptcy most attention which the Hanjin container line saga has drawn has been for the fate of the cargoes and the situation for shippers and consignees which are being asked to pay, at least in part, for the debacle. Our article on September 13 listed some of the fees being asked for release of goods and naturally companies are concerned about the fate of their shipments. Now however, amongst others, global maritime welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers, has pointed out the potential for human tragedy which the situation brings.

Problems for the stricken line’s crews and others aboard abound. Somewhere in the pirate infested waters of the South China Sea four young Scottish college students await their fate aboard the chartered in, Liberian registered Hanjin Louisiana. The lads are trapped as a result of choosing the wrong option for their nautical science course from Clyde Marine Training. Theirs is typical of the situation for many aboard the unknown number of Hanjin vessels, the company lists 88 in the container fleet, 37 owned and 51 on charter, many which have been delayed in port, or held at sea because of the crisis.

The South Korean container shipping giant, the world’s seventh-largest box line, filed for receivership last month, putting thousands of jobs at risk and the extended fleet of various vessel types, said by some to be around 141 ships, carries crew totalling some 2,500 individuals. Even now, some port authorities are refusing entry to the ocean carrier's vessels with limited access to funds due leaving a shadow of doubt over the future of the ships and crews. Ken Peters, Director of Justice and Public Affairs, The Mission to Seafarers, said:

“Today we have written a letter offering our support to Hanjin Shipping and their seafarers. If the ships continue to be blocked from entering port, there could be a welfare crisis for these seafarers, as vessels will quickly run out of food, fuel and essential provisions. Seafarers will be very anxious and their families at home will be concerned and distressed.

”The Mission to Seafarers has now issued a global alert to all our 200 port welfare teams to be ready to assist Hanjin seafarers when they come into port. We have also asked Hanjin to publish the global Seafarer Helpline details to all their crewing agencies, so that should seafarers have an emergency, they can quickly find help.”

The Mission is celebrating its 160th anniversary year in 2016 and works in 50 countries around the world, entirely funded by voluntary donations. In Hanjin’s home country the effect of the problem is especially keenly felt and Simon Ro, Port Chaplain Busan, South Korea for The Mission to Seafarers, said:

“We have Hanjin vessels currently waiting at Busan port. Our ‘Flying Angels’ ship-visiting group, which is made up of 10 volunteers from the Korea Maritime and Ocean University (KMOU), have been visiting on board. They report that seafarers are worried about their wages and are concerned that there have been calls from some officials for the crews to be sent home. They have also told me that there is concern about shortages of supplies on board.”