Seven crew members reportedly stuck on a Panama-flagged vessel, Ocean Explorer, asked by the Port State Control to anchor at Mumbai High, now fear for their lives in the monsoon, as both engines of the ship are nonoperational. The Port State Control directed the vessel to anchor after the crew members complained of not receiving salaries since 2021 (November), when the vessel was first anchored for two ill crew members.
The onboard chief engineer Ravikumar Kaliveetil informed that the Ocean Explorer is an Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessel. However, its main engines are currently nonoperational and have been this way for several months. Another machinery has also broken down. The ship is unseaworthy and poses a threat to the humans onboard.
Kaliveetil reported mid-day that it was pouring continuously, and the wind was significantly strong. They could not sleep due to pitching and rolling in the vessel. They feared that the sea could break the anchor chain.
The reason for anchoring
The vessel has been anchored since 2021 (November) at the Princess and Victoria channel at Mumbai Port, located about 4km from the Gateway of India, when two crew members complained of health issues. The ill crew members were let off with their salaries in April. Along with them, nine others who completed the duty period were let off too.
However, the remaining seven members filed a complaint with the Port State Control since they were not paid their salaries. Hence, the Panama-flagged vessel anchored at Mumbai High until the owner cleared the dues, reported the Working President of All India Seafarers Union, Abhijeet Sangle.
Except for the Syrian captain Mohammad Al Husseini, the rest of the six members are Indians. Kaliveetil also informed that the captain’s passport had expired.
Crew members’ woes
Kanwar Singh, the Chief Officer, said that his daughter was to get married on 26 June, but he was unaware when he would disembark, so they had to postpone her wedding. Singh’s daughter Priyanka has reported that her family had to incur a loss of about Rs 10 lakh as her marriage had to be postponed. Her father was stuck, and she could not get married in his absence.
Jafarrtaj Mujawar is another crew member. His mother was admitted to a hospital, but he couldn’t visit her.
The wife of crew member Mukesh Bari reported that she is unable to pay rent as her husband is not being able to send money. Pradeep Kumar Kumaresan, the Third Engineer, was also preparing to get married last month.
When asked about the issue, the mid-day was told by the Director-General of Shipping, Amitabh Kumar, that when a ship is under arrest, the court makes sure that salary is distributed to the crew from the money received on selling the vessel. The sheriff does this.