Forty crew members, of whom 30 Indian nationals, have been stranded at the Port of Sharjah in the UAE for over two years on three separate vessels, all owned by the same shipping company, the Dubai-based Elite Way Marine Services EST.
The crew abandonment was reported to England-based maritime charity organization Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) by Captain Ayyapan Swaminathan, Master of UAE-flagged deck cargo ship M/V Azraqmoiah, who has been left stranded on the vessel for almost two years since the expiration of his contract.
A similar fate is shared by the seafarers on board the deck cargo vessel M/V Tamim Aldar and the offshore supply vessel M/V Al Nader, who are left without salaries, basic provisions, shore leave and have no communication with their families, according to HRAS. What is more, the seafarers had their documents confiscated by the UAE authorities, depriving the mariners from the right to leave the country.
In addition to poor living conditions, the vessel M/V Al Nader is experiencing power outages due to lack of fuel and was involved in a collision in October 2018 as the crew was forced to keep the ship in blackout condition.
The Federal Transport Authority (FTA) of UAE has been made aware of the case and has since taken legal action and banned Elite Way Marine Services EST in UAE on the grounds of seafarer abandonment. As informed, the case was filed on August 26, 2018. The owner and managers of the ships told the authority that they plan to sell the ships to resolve the issue, however, they have failed to do so until now.
The captain of the Azraqmoiah sent another letter to FTA in November, describing the dire situation of the seafarers and the danger they are facing due to night-time blackouts resulting from the lack of fuel.
The seafarers feel powerless as their basic human rights are denied and they are unable to return to their families.
“Elite Way Marine Services EST, registered in Dubai, has apparently adopted a pattern of abandonment of the seafarers on board its three vessels anchored in the UAE. It has not honored the respective contracts of employment and the corresponding legal obligations and it is fully responsible and accountable for their daily inhumane treatment,” HRAS said in a case study report.