The crew of the Bahrain-flagged oil products tanker Bramco 1 has been faced with a two-year ordeal having been abandoned amid a dispute between the shipowner in Bahrain and the COSCO shipyard in Guangzhou, China, with no end of their nightmare in sight, the ITF said.
“The three Myanmar and two Bangladeshi sailors continue to endure intolerable conditions and are suffering the strain of their families’ impoverishment,” ITF said commenting on the inaction of the authorities and ship owner to resolve the issue.
Based on the International Labour Organization (ILO) data, the ship was abandoned in March 2015 in Guandong shipyard, People’s Republic of China, with 12 members on board, 2 Bangladeshi and ten from Myanmar.
The ship was undergoing conversion which was delayed amid certain complications at COSCO yard.
The vessel has been at the shipyard since 2011 and since 2013 moored alongside a dry dock in the river which is only accessible by a ferry transporting workers to the dry dock.
In 2015, the Government of Bahrain said the outstanding wages to the crew had been paid and that the crew who had completed their contract were also being repatriated. Nevertheless, the seafarers were still abandoned in December 2016.
In January, the government added it stopped all of the ship owner’s other vessels from trading until he resolves the Bramco I crew issues. As disclosed, the owner claimed that he had transferred a huge amount of money to the agent but the agent stole the money.
During a visit from a doctor to the ship in February 2017, it was found that “all seafarers were distressed by their situation, morale on board was very low and all of the contracts had expired.”
“All men are largely confined in what is in effect the industrial environment of the dry dock which is adversely affecting their health. All are becoming increasingly unfit as time progresses both mentally and physically.
Their condition may deteriorate particularly with the hot weather coming and the lack of air-conditioning. The diet also requires improvement. Based on this report all efforts should be made by both the flag and port state in assisting the crew urgently,” a report from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) read.
The ship was arrested by ITF in May 2017, however, it is unknown how long the legal process could take.
“As of 5 July 2017, the master and seven crew members have now been repatriated, arranged by the local agent. With the exception of the Master, they have gone home without any wages,” ILO told World Maritime News in a statement.
“There have also been several emails from the ship owner claiming that they are doing their best to resolve this issue.”
ITF said that Jason Lam, ITF inspector in Hong Kong, visited the vessel on 11 July. He reported that living conditions on board were bad, with no air conditioning when the outside temperature was 33ºC, forcing the sailors to use fans to keep cool. He added that one of the Myanmar sailors had high blood pressure, another severe toothache and the Bangladeshi fitter looked very weak from a foot affected by diabetes.
“Our inspectors have been doing all they can to ease the plight of the crew, but we’re simply bandaging an ongoing sore that has festered for far too long,” ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith said.
“We demand that the ship owner, flag, and port states step up to the mark and facilitate a solution to what amounts to the ongoing torture of innocent seafarers.”
The MR1 tanker, formerly known as Palmerston, was built in 1990, and is owned by Bahrain’s Bramco, according to VesselsValue data.
World Maritime News Staff