Italian crew in limbo in Canada

Italian crew in limbo in Canada

Fourteen seafarers are stuck onboard a bulk carrier in Canada while they await the settlement of a dispute between the vessel’s old and new owners.

The open-hatch handysize  Ardita (5,000 dwt, built 2007) was sold by Italy’s Armamento Setramar to McKeil Marine of Canada, but closure of the deal was blocked by Italian banks and the vessel was arrested in Hamilton, Canada, according to local reports.

“We were in the process of buying the ship for our fleet. We put up the capital to get it here with the full expectation of closing the deal here,” Bruce McKeil, chairman and CEO of McKeil Marine, told The Spec. “The ship had to be brought here [Hamilton] to be transferred to a Canadian registry.”

McKeil said around $2m is owed in bills, mostly to his company, but also to a shipping repair company in Hamilton.

McKeil Marine reportedly had to buy another ship to carry cement down the St. Lawrence Seaway to a customer on the east coast, a voyage that was intended for Ardita.

The 14-man crew is still getting paid by Setramar and are in reasonably good spirits, considering the circumstances, Rev. Ronda Ploughman from the Hamilton branch of The Mission to Seafarers Southern Ontario, told The Spec. Twelve of the seafarers are Italian nationals.

The Mission is trying provide a way for the crew to contact with their families because communication from the ship is far too expensive, Rev. Ploughman said.

The vessel has been anchored in the middle of Hamilton’s harbour since June 19 in order to free up berths for other vessels. The vessel reportedly last berthed at the port in mid-July and the crew was free to come and go as they pleased.

“The vessel is under arrest. Not the crew,” Port Authority harbourmaster Vicki Gruber told The Spec.

Meanwhile, changeover replacements for the crew have reportedly been flown into Canada to relieve crew members who are going on leave.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.

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