Middle EastOperations

Crew of four ships abandoned for years in UAE waters

A newspaper from the United Arab Emirates has outlined the terrible conditions for a number of Indian seafarers abandoned off Sharjah.

Subith Sukumaran, 24, for instance, has not been home to Kerala for nearly three years. The oiler, who signed up for a one year contract on the Sharjah Moon, a production testing vessel, has been left stranded in the UAE, missing 16 months of backpay. Sukumaran’s plight is shared by fellow crewmembers who number six Indians and one Sri Lankan. The ship has been at anchorage in UAE waters since July last year.

Without fuel, the crew said they have been living mostly in the dark. “We sleep on our deck and did not take a shower for 10-15 days. We turn on the generator only for using the hotplate for cooking for one hour. We ran out of the wooden planks we used for burning to cook while at anchorage,” one crewmember related.

The crew have been in touch with the Indian consulate, and officials have since visited the ship and tried to liase with its owner as well as UAE authorities to get the men paid and back home.

Gulf News states the ship is owned by a Pakistani national who controls Sharjah-based Alco Shipping Company. Moreover, Gulf News has uncovered that crew on another three Alco ships are suffering similar conditions. Some of the men working on the Ocean Pride, the Ocean Grace and ABS1 have been stranded in UAE waters for more than two years.

Cases of crew abandonment have soared in the past 18 months as the protracted shipping and offshore downturn takes its toll. Splash continues to name and shame owners who carry out this vile practice whenever we hear of such incidents.

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.
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