Middle EastOperations

Serial crew abandonment offender Varun banned from UAE waters

On Tuesday IMO secretary general Kitack Lim used the Splash crew abandonment campaign as a platform to call for greater cooperation with port and flag states to help fight the scourge. Some countries are clearly paying heed.

Splash has obtained a circular sent to ship agents and port authorities from the United Arab Emirates’ Federal Transport Authority banning any Varun ship from calling at any UAE port or anchoring in local waters until further notice.

Mumbai-based Varun has been a serial crew abandonment offender with a number of its ships and employees left stranded off the UAE.

The majority of the gas carrier fleet of the Yudhishthir Khatau-led Varun Shipping is under arrest with the ships likely to be sold off soon, Splash reported last month.

The LPG tanker Maharshi Vamadeva had been off Fujairah port in the UAE since June over Varun’s failure to pay Drydocks World for repair work.

The crew on the ship off Fujairah wrote an email to the Indian embassy in the UAE last month asking for help. Conditions on the Maharshi Vamadeva were described in local UAE media as very dire, something the Federal Transport Authority backed up in its circular.

Varun has had a checkered recent past. Khatau was feted in the previous decade, anointed as a rising star on the international shipping stage. He even rose to become the youngest ever president of global shipowning body, Bimco in 2011. However, for the past five years Varun has run into regular difficulties, coming close to bankruptcy in 2014. Varun’s crew have been one of the worst hit by cases of crew abandonment in recent years, some even resorting to desperate hunger strikes.

The UAE has gained an unfortunate reputation as a premier destination for ships to be jettisoned by owners in recent years to the point whereby the local Indian consulate in Dubai has from this July  started naming and shaming repeat offenders so that seafarers can see the most unscrupulous shipowners.

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. Fabulous!!…shall others rise to the occasion? These owners are known. Now the Port State Control Databases and the Abandonment Databases can be of real use. Also there are Countries that de-registered ships for multiple detentions and various other malpractices… Perhaps that could be another database. GISIS is also a good place to go to ascertain registries of ships but it is not always accurate.

  2. It’s very good that U A E has taken initiatives to save seafarers. Thanks and same thing to be implemented in all the place so that this will be effective. This type of issues happening with other owners like array ship charter and brokers who is on owner of distya akkula and distya ameya all ship have wages issues and which is manned by elektrans shipping Pvt ltd

  3. Last one year with elektrans shipping Pvt Ltd has cheated so many seafarers with out wages no action was taken they are manning for arya ship all 4 ships had same issues nothing was short it out . We are seafarers has to face same problem . Currently distya ameya and distya akkula at Anchorage for last 4 months . Ameya crew complained to all concerned parties no action taken still crew left on board no idea when they will get their wages and go home safely .so pathetic conditions onboard all efforts to recover wages nothing got success. Presently vessel got arrested by bunker supplier for nonpayment of bunker s which was supplied on may 2017 . We can tell so many things but what will happen.

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