The plight of the crew onboard the Anhui bulk carrier highlights both the ongoing crew change crisis and subsequent supply chain kinks.
The ship was detained in Antwerp late last month, ironically at the Liberation Dock, after it was found some of the all Vietnamese crew serving onboard had been working for up to 21 months non-stop. All crew had worked well beyond their contracts.
The ship has this week discharged its cargo and it has been reloaded onto a chartered vessel.
The two longest serving crewmembers on the Anhui are now at a hotel in Antwerp while local Vietnamese consular staff try to fix flights for all 20 crewmembers.
ITF inspector Marc Van Noten commented: “With this ship, it was clear that there was not even an action plan to try a swap. Perhaps because of that, it was put in detention. But the problem in the industry is dire. There are up to 400,000 seafarers worldwide who are in the same situation of not being relieved after terminating their employment contracts. In these coronavirus times, getting a crew home is really not easy. At the beginning of the pandemic there were sometimes embassy flights, but that too seems to have come to a complete to a stop.”
The 2019-built, 39,269 dwt ship is flagged in Panama and owned by Japan’s KN Maritime. New crew are expected to arrive next week to liberate the Anhui crew.
Travel restrictions brought about by the 11-month-old coronavirus pandemic have seen more than 400,000 seafarers working beyond their contracts with many now approaching two years at sea, with scant shore leave to boot.
“The crew change crisis is the largest ever humanitarian and logistical tragedy facing the maritime sector,” Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Belgian tanker giant Euronav, said last week at the unveiling of the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change, a global call to action to address the ongoing crew change crisis.
Other horrendous tales of crew neglect during the pandemic are emerging regularly, few better documented than the YouTube video (see below) posted by Captain Tymur Rudov last month in which he discussed the impossibility of getting a seriously ill colleague off his ship in China for urgent medical attention.