ITF Slams US over Plans to Revoke Seafarer Visas

SeafarerIllustration; Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has criticized the U.S. government for saying it will deny seafarers a U.S. visa if they work on board a vessel carrying Iranian oil.

ITF said that it had serious concerns over the lack of understanding shown by many governments in relation to international shipping and the role played by seafarers after a recent message from the U.S. State Department to the maritime industry on invoking anti-terrorism legislation to deny seafarers a U.S. visa.

The statement was made after the tanker Grace 1, now named Adrian Darya 1, was released by Gibraltar authorities in mid-August as the country received assurances that the ship would not violate EU sanctions.

Dave Heindel, ITF seafarers section chair, explained that it is unfair to expect of seafarers “to have any influence over the destination of a vessel or its cargo.”

“Seafarers, whether they are ratings or officers, rarely know where the vessel is bound. Ordinarily a vessel is instructed by the ship management company to sail a certain course with further directions to be given later. If a vessel is directed to an Iranian port, it’s common that the captain will be the only one who knows the destination a day or two before.”

“The crew, especially ratings and lower-ranking officers, will not know and have no possibility to refuse or disembark the vessel during the voyage.”

“In addition, seafarers usually have no idea who actually owns the vessel on which they are working, much less who owns the cargo,” Heindel said.

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