Middle EastOperationsTankers

Conditions now deadly on abandoned chemical tanker off Tunisia

The master of the chemical tanker Qaaswa has contacted Splash with details of another shocking case of crew abandonment. The ship has been anchored off Tunisia since last May. It has now run out of power with the last generator recently running out of fuel.

The vessel is in full darkness and at night is now a dangerous hindrance, anchored at the mouth of the port of Sfax.

What little food is left is beginning to spoil with the end of the power supply while fresh water supplies have run out. Moreover, there is no more medicine onboard and five crewmembers are reported as sick and in need of an urgent visit to a doctor.

“In this situation crew are dieing (sic) onboard,” the ship’s master, Captain Yehia Kamel, wrote in an email to Splash. “All ship crew need to leave ship immediately with all their salaries and air tickets,” he added.

The UAE-flagged ship belongs to Sharjah-based Alco Shipping Services, a company, which has been linked to a number of crew abandonment cases in the past 12 months.

Onboard the Qaaswa are two Indians, three Bangladeshis and 13 Egyptians. The local embassies of the affected crew have been contacted in Tunisia who are now trying to find a solution to the crisis.

Many of the ship’s certificates have expired and payment arrears are now more than six months.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. If they were illegal immigrants who had paid “people-smugglers” to get them to Europe, they would be treated much better than this! Would anyone blame the desperate crew of “Quaaswa” were they to sink their own ship and send out a “Mayday” message, thereby being taken to safety, and flown home?

  2. I am not a lawyer, but I am sure many of your readers are maritime lawyers so perhaps they can correct my comments.
    Surely the Master remains “in possession” of the vessel and can initiate a local legal action to establish a maritime lien on the vessel on behalf of himself and his crew by raising a “bottomry bond” or loan on the vessel to overcome these unacceptable difficulties.

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