Update to abandoned Indian Seafarers of MV Tamim Aldar off UAE Coast

Press Release

 I July 2019

“We don’t have any option to save our life, we have to go, so finally we decided and went with our lifeboat…we are very afraid, but somehow we have to go to save us.”

Testimony of abandoned seafarers of MV Tamim Aldar having been forced to abandon their vessel to try to save their lives.

 

London.UK. Human Rights at Sea has once again been engaged with the remaining abandoned Indian crew on the UAE flagged MV Tamim Aldar after they were returned yesterday to their deteriorating vessel by the UAE Coastguard following their own abandonment of the vessel owned by Eliteway Marine Services Ltd in the only lifeboat able to make the sea journey.

It was reported by Second Engineer, Vikas Mishra, that it took days for the crew to make the lifeboat serviceable for the dangerous 25 nautical mile journey to shore with unpredictable conditions, winds and tidal flows to contend with. He stated to the charity: “we were very frightened”.

The crew mended the engine on one of the ship’s lifeboats before heading into port after no bunkers, lube oil, potable water and supplies were received despite apparent owner assurances otherwise.

Meanwhile, public pleas for help repeatedly sent out across social media channels supported by international media outlets such as The Times of India and The Maritime Executive have had limited contributory effect on curtailing their desperate situation, and final payment of all owed wages by the owners.

“We don’t have AC, we don’t have generators, we suffer a lot.”

The lack of lube and bunkers has meant that generators can not be run for more than an hour a day for the basic functioning of onboard electrical systems, noting that increasing temperatures in the area are currently 40+ degrees centigrade from which the crew have not had any respite in these summer months. For some crew, this is the third summer spent onboard in such conditions.

The crew stated that they did not know what else to do, so they made a collective decision and were forced to leave for reasons of serious concern for their personal safety.

Prior to being forced to disembark, Human Rights at Sea was sent a copy of the letter sent to the UAE authorities and Indian Embassy on 26thJune. This letter is published below as sent with the crew’s explicit permission.

[Starts]

“CAPT. ABDULLA AL HAYYAS

DIRECTOR

FEDERAL TRANSPORT AUTHORITY –MARINE

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

 

EMBASSY OF INDIA

ABUDHABI ,UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Mr Vibha Kant Sharma

Vice Consul (Consular)

Consulate General of India

 

Today we (2 Indian and 2 iritriyan [Eritrean]) have abandoned the vessel M.v tamim aldar due to pathetic situation.

We were in complete back out.

Company was not paying any intention to solve the problem vessel was not under command.

Both main generator was not operational.

Main engine also failure , vessel was list stbd side which was dangerous for our life.

We did not have lub oil , Bunker and our f.w was also going to finish.

So the problem was in complete back out vessel was not safe for our life.

Night time we were using our mobile phone as torch light.

So due to black out we can’t use it.

And specially in night time it was more dangerous if any emergency came we could not able to do any thing to save vessel as well as our life.

We were sleeping out side in night so many kind of cockroach and insects & mosquito and weather also hot so we could not able to sleep in night as well as in day time.

I was informing to company since so many days.

But they do not do any thing.

This is my 33 month running onboard and my 28 month salary was not paid same way  others too.

Second thing was due to in proper food we were sick physically as well as mentality.

We were depressed and helpless.

In any emergency it was not possible to assist us urgent because we were very far from shore.

Last bunker and last f.w was supplied by company was in October 2018 {5 ton}.

Since than they did not provide us any facility.

They were completely leaves us abandoned.

So in such summer we could not able to sleep in night or in day.

Company do not give us any option than abandoned the vessel.

So Now we are going to umm al qayawan Harbour.

Kindly help us to inter in harbour.

I do believe uae authority will help us all the possible way to solve our issue and send us home safely.

 

Kind regards

Abandoned seafarers

M.v tamim aldar”

[Ends]

In further testimony, the crew informed Human Rights at Sea that once ashore and having had their case lodged as a criminal complaint with the Coastguard there was the suggested possibility of them going to jail, which both concerned and upset the seafarers greatly, but has not materialised.  Consequently, the crew have now had to accept their return back out to sea with further assurances from the owners that they will be shortly resupplied.

For some of the abandoned crew members this is their 33rdmonth onboard and the 28thmonth without funds being able to be sent back to their dependant families. Loans are being called in, and one crew member has reported losing his home [flat].

Being 25 nautical miles from the shore there is a lack of assured mobile network coverage, a lack of ability to obtain phone recharge cards, and there has been very little communication with family members while abandoned. This has caused both the crew and their loved ones significant emotional distress.

Speaking to the charity, Vikas Mishra, told of the conditions onboard, the effect on them and their families, and the many broken promises made to them by the owners commenting that: “they are just making fake promises always these last two years”. “The last bunker was supplied 5th November 2018…so now we are completely out of diesel oil and we don’t have any lube oil,…so to run the generator we need lube oil.”

He went on to say: “They are torturing us”.

Praise was given to the UAE Coastguard and the legal team from UAE based Fitche & Co, and despite them being returned to the vessel the crew thanked the Coastguard for their sympathy, support and their assurances made to the crew that they would ensure that justice was achieved for them. The Mission to Seafarers has also been instrumental in this and other related cases in the region as the front-end welfare provider in these matters.

Human Rights at Sea previously reported in 2018 on the unacceptable conditions onboard the MV Tamim Aldar, including and most recently on 26thMay 2019 in the posting ‘During Ramadan Indian seafarers remain abandoned in appalling conditions’, noting that little if anything has changed for the crew since.

Human Rights at Sea said: “The detail of these most recent personal testimonies will be published separately by our charity. They make for harrowing listening for any seafarer and family member, but the reality of seafarer abandonment and its detrimental effects must no longer be hidden from public scrutiny and awareness.”

Ends.

 

Important Note to Readers

Human Rights at Sea continues to publish educational materials, publications, investigative case studies of individual and family testimony highlighting unacceptable conditions onboard vessels of all tonnages, as well as throughout the associated maritime supply chain, in order to establish greater public awareness of the issues raised without compromising our editorial freedom.

The charity does not subscribe to any imposed protocols and agreements with other entities effectively limiting the ability to report freely and objectively disclose facts, including the reality of unacceptable labour and wider human rights abuses at sea.

The charity will therefore continue to take a legal and moral stand whenever and wherever it can to fairly advocate for the betterment of human rights, working conditions, and the reduction in abuse at sea. This includes pressing issues such as the criminalisation of seafarers and humanitarian rescuers, abuses towards migrants, impunity of flag States in transparently reacting to and addressing reported abuse, the expansion of the positive contributory role of civil society organisations in the maritime sector, and the provision of greater awareness of effective remedies when abuse occurs.

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