AsiaMiddle EastOperations

Indian master recounts horror of spending a year alone on decrepit abandoned tanker

Dubai newspaper Gulf News has carried a shocking report of an Indian tanker master who has finally managed to head home having spent a year alone onboard an abandoned vessel in horrendous conditions.

Nirmal Singh Rawat, 27, recounted how he was forced to live on ship Gulf News reported was called Hamed 2, five miles off Sharjah for the last year in the blazing heat of the Middle East with no electricity and minimal food. Shipping database Equasis has no record of the Hamed 2.

The Indian national was finally rescued by UAE authorities on Tuesday and flew home on Wednesday.

“There had been days I had to starve without food and water. Once I had to stay for 50 hours without even drinking water in the peak of summer,” Rawat told Gulf News just ahead of a boarding a flight home.

He slept out on deck as the heat and humidity inside the accommodation block was too severe. He was only rescued after the anchor chain of the dilapidating vessel broke recently.

The captain of the ship said he had joined the vessel in July 2016 with a promised salary of $2,000 a month. “I was not given a contract even after I joined the ship. It was when I asked the other crew that I realised that I was being fooled because they also had not been paid for 14 to 17 months.”

The other eight other crewmembers signed off and headed home 12 months ago at which point Rawat was left all alone.

“I am the captain. I couldn’t go just like that. Also, I wanted to get my pending salaries. So I stayed back,” Rawat said.

India’s consul general has revealed there have been 220 Indian sailors sent back home in the past six months having been stranded in UAE waters. Latterly, UAE authorities have started to crack down on owners abandoning their ships in local waters.

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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