Two of the world’s leading shipowning organisations have refused to condemn crew abandonment. Contacted last week in preparation for the Splash seafarer abandonment campaign, neither Intertanko, nor its dry bulk counterpart, Intercargo, have deigned to go on the record to hit out at owners who have ditched their staff at sea, despite the request for comment being discussed at the highest levels of both bodies.
Fortunately, other shipping leaders have responded to the campaign including Esben Poulsson, the chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), who was quick to slam the small minority who bring shame on the industry.
“The failure of shipping companies to repatriate crew can sadly still occur in the margins of what is a large and generally very responsible global industry. This is plainly unacceptable in the 21st century,” Poulsson said.
However, the ICS boss did point out that as a result of important recent changes to the ILO Maritime Labour Convention – negotiated between ICS, ITF and governments – all shipping companies, in order to trade, are now required to have financial securities in place.
“This should ensure that all seafarers are repatriated, even in the event of bankruptcy and any failure to pay insurance premiums,” Poulsson said.
Poulsson’s comments were echoed by Angus Frew, the secretary general and CEO at global shipowning body BIMCO.
“It is totally unacceptable for any seafarer to find themselves abandoned in a foreign port without food or water, the financial resources to get home or their earned wages,” Frew said, adding: “Such incidents cause the seafarers involved immeasurable distress and in the longer term, have a damaging effect on the image of the shipping industry and its ability to attract and retain qualified seafarers.”