Stranded Dubai ship crew crisis resolved after three months

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Stranded Dubai ship crew crisis resolved after three months

Seven crew have already left the ship while three are in process of signing off; four decide to stay back on the vessel under new management.

By Sajila Saseendran/senior Reporter

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Published: Thu 30 Oct 2014, 12:43 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:51 PM

FREE AT LAST ... Seven crew members of MV Home who have left the vessel. — Supplied photo

A three month-long crisis faced by the 14-member crew of a ship stranded in the UAE waters has been resolved, thanks to the active intervention of the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

Of the crew, four Indians have decided to stay back on the ship, which is now under a new management, the mission said on Tuesday. Four Indians, two Myanmarese and one Nepalese have already left the vessel, while three Indians are in the process of signing off.

The Panama-flagged MV Home was owned by a Dubai company and was engaged in renting out accommodation for workers in rigs when the crew faced non-payment of salaries and shortage of food supply. The crew was so frustrated after the company left them high and dry in the sea without providing food and water for 50 days that one of them was on the verge of committing suicide, the vessel’s captain said. Speaking to Khaleej Times from his home in Patna, India, Captain Shailendra Sharma said he had not faced such a crisis in his 10 years as Captain. “The worst experience was handling a crew who was on the verge of committing suicide.”

He said he saw a man, who hailed from Tamil Nadu, banging his head against the iron wall of the ship’s superstructure. “He was also about to jump off to the sea. I can’t express how I managed to console him and prevent him (from committing suicide).”

The captain said the crew’s plight started when the ship was left unattended by its company from August. “The ship wasn’t hired by any rigs for quite some time and we were at Khor Fakkan when the company last provided fresh water and other provisions to us for 40 days,” said Captain Sharma.

“That was on July 9. Since then, they never bothered to check on us and nobody answered my calls and messages when our food and water supply started running out. We waited till August 31 and after that we could not hold on any more.”

The captain then approached ITF Seafarers in London and sent a distress call to the Indian Consulate in Dubai. “After I contacted them, the consulate officials were in touch with us every day and they helped in arranging fresh water immediately from some nearby ships.”

He said the officials from the consulate also helped in keeping the crew’s morale high. The mission also put pressure on the company to provide more provisions for the crew. “But they provided provisions for just 15 days and things were back to square one again.”

Subsequently, with the cooperation of the Harbour Master, Ajman Port, the vessel was allowed to anchor at Ajman port. Captain Sharma said the consulate helped in pushing the company to supply provisions once again.

“This time they gave only minimal food to survive, though we are entitled to three-star food.” Meanwhile, the company got into an agreement with another firm in Sharjah, which has now taken over the management of the vessel.

The Indian mission also held discussions with the new owners and arranged the settlement of the crew’s pending salaries for three-and-a-half months. The repatriation of the seafarers was also facilitated by the consulate.

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