Crew desert Samho Dream in Dubai waters

Crew desert Samho Dream in Dubai waters

Last year, Somali pirates were paid the highest ever ransom for her release after a seven-month piracy saga in the Indian Ocean.



With more than two million barrels of crude oil cargo, VLCC Samho Dream was then worth more than $9million dollars, of course, along with her 24 crew in hostage.

But for the past few days, the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel has been lying abandoned by her latest captain and the crew as they had to flee the super tanker stranded in Dubai waters for nearly three months.

Life in Samho Dream had become a nightmare for them after the Korean owners, Samho Shipping, failed to provide them with fuel, food and water, let alone their salaries.

The hefty ransom paid for Samho Dream, coupled with the impact of the economic recession on the marine industry, had reportedly contributed in sending Samho Shipping into dire straits.

The 21 officers and crew aboard the vessel were taken off the ship this week after they ran out of fresh water and fuel.

Fourteen of them, all from the Philippines, flew back to their home country on Wednesday night while seven Korean crew, including the captain, have been lodged in a Dubai hotel since Monday.

The crew’s rescue followed a series of reports in Khaleej Times which also highlighted the plight of the crew members of two more stranded ships belonging to the same company.

While the crew aboard Samho Crown and Samho Jasper are still awaiting their turn to be rescued, those onboard Samho Dream saw the silver lining to the clouds surrounding the vessel earlier this week. Their master, Captain Son Huil, is upset about his ship’s current status. At anchorage off Rashid Port, Samho Dream, like the other two vessels lying within a distance of a few nautical miles, has kept the tow line ready in case she needs to be towed away in an emergency situation.

“It’s risky to leave the ship like that. That too, such a big ship. She is about 330 metres long. But, we had no other option. I think the authorities are keeping a watch on her,” Huil said.

He said both the Korean and Filipino crew refused to go back to the ship when the banks currently handling Samho Shipping’s assets asked them to do so after promising to pay their dues aboard.

“We didn’t want to go back to the ship again. We want our salaries to be paid soon,” he said.

Before departing for their home land, the Filipino crew thanked the local authorities, especially the Dubai Maritime City Authority, and the representative of the International Registries Inc. of Marshal Islands. “We also want to thank the Overseas Workers Welfare Association in Philippines and our Labour Attache with the Philippine Consulate in Dubai for their involvement in taking us out of the ship. But of course we wouldn’t have got this much support without the Khaleej Times articles,” said the third engineer Predelyn Delacruz.

He recollected that a Dubai-based bunkering company had donated provisions to the ship after reading about their situation.

Delacruz said their terrible experience had made the Philippines government to put the sinking company on its watch list.

“Our government has also warned our local manning agency Solpia Marine and Ship Management Inc,” he said.

Recounting the ordeal they went through, second mate Levy B. Asendente said he was in grief that his father would no more be at home.

“He passed away a month back. I had requested Samho Shipping to allow me to go home. But they didn’t as I had joined the ship only in February.” Jose Everito R. Apolinar, the boatswain in the ship, said he had never been stranded like this in his 23 years’ experience.

“It’s very difficult to manage things at home without my salaries. I have two sons and a niece going to college,” he said.

The crew who went through a saga of frustration and anxiety said they were still worried if and when they would get their dues.

The Korean company owes them their salaries for more than two months.

sajila@khaleejtimes.com


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