Blumenthal Ship Released after Spending 9 Days in Belgian Port

ShippingIllustration. Source: Pixabay under CC0 license

The Liberian-flagged bulk carrier the MV Lita, that was detained for nine days at a Belgian port, has been released, according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

Belgian authorities detained the vessel following an inspection that revealed dozens of safety breaches and deficiencies relating to the working conditions of the crew.

“The proper maintenance of ships’ equipment is just as important as the proper treatment of seafarers – a failure in either system can lead to serious accidents,” Sven Hemme, ITF inspector, said.

Port State Control boarded the vessel at the Port of Ghent on July 1, 2019, following a complaint from a seafarer. Inspectors found 36 deficiencies, including major defects that resulted in the detention of the vessel.

Serious breaches included non-functioning emergency lighting, batteries and switches; unusable life-saving appliances; incorrectly maintained lifeboats; inadequate fire extinguishers; insufficient fire training for the crew; and issues with the general safety policy and procedures on board. Inspectors also found a number of structural problems, such as insufficient electrical maintenance, rust and unsafe, damaged doors.

The MV Lita remained under detention by Port State Control Belgium until critical deficiencies were rectified, and was released from its arrest on July 9, 2019.

Hemme informed that these breaches are “symptomatic of the FoC system that allows for exploitation and labour abuse of international seafarers.”

“We’ve repeatedly called on Blumenthal to be part of the change to help improve the world’s maritime industry, and to bring all their FoC vessels under ITF Agreements and agree to a transparent compliance process that ensures seafarers’ rights, freedoms and working conditions are protected.

“The company has continued to ignore the ITF, so again we’re asking governments around the world to alert and ask their port state control to keep a watchful eye on Blumenthal’s fleet and audit and inspect their vessels in their ports to ensure that more than 700 seafarers across their fleet aren’t subjected to unsafe or exploitative conditions,” Hemme concluded.

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