Following the unexpected death on 19 April 2021 of the Romanian Master of the MV VANTAGE WAVE (IMO: 9506514) Human Rights at Sea has been asked by the deceased’s family and instructed by Gard P&I insurers on behalf of owners’ and crew members’ interests, to bring urgent international attention to the case of the continued failure to repatriate the body after seven weeks by multiple States.
The onboard situation is further exacerbated by a rapidly emerging issue of food and water shortages, with resupply and dis-embarkment permissions allegedly being denied by local Chinese authorities at the time of writing.
The WAVE VANTAGE (IMO: 9506514) is a General Cargo vessel built in 2011, sailing under the flag of Liberia.
Following loading at Paradip Port in India, the vessel departed for Huangpu New Port in Guangzhou, China on April 15, 2021, to discharge 25,000 tons of aluminium ingots. Unexpectedly, four days later on April 19, the Master passed away during the voyage.
His clinical condition before passing did not indicate any Covid-19 infection, though he reportedly had swollen legs and very low blood pressure. Medical advice subsequently sought by Gard has suggested death was the result of a cardiac arrest.
Despite extensive legal, insurance, and Romanian diplomatic efforts to arrange for the disembarkation of the body in multiple countries including Singapore, Malaysia, S. Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, as well as local lawyers’ involvement and reasonable pressure being brought through normal channels by Gard, to date, there has been a collective nil response to assist the crew.
The Vessel arrived at the Outer Guishan Anchorage, China, on May 7th 2021 and remains waiting for berthing and discharge instructions. Despite diplomatic and commercial negotiations, Guangzhou Municipal Government has not yet approved the disembarkation of the body.
The family of the deceased have taken the steps to agree to the incineration of the body in an attempt to address the matter and despite that, it is against their religious traditions and personal wishes.
Over the last month, the crew and the vessel have additionally been facing a serious shortage of food and water, which has imposed additional risks to the safety of the vessel and the general health of the crew. Despite requests for food and water resupply being submitted, these continue to be rejected.
The shortage of food and water on board the vessel is reported as getting worse with the time waiting for berthing to be agreed.
Owners and crew members on board fully understand the COVID-19 pandemic prevention issues of the local government agency, but note that if the vessel cannot proceed to berth and disembark the body, and in addition to the fact that food and water supplies are running low, these factors are adding significant psychological pressure on the remaining crew.
Further, this issue is assessed to exacerbate a humanitarian and potential public health crisis thereby endangering the vessel’s safety at sea.
Human Rights at Sea urgently calls for local port authorities in China to act swiftly to alleviate the vessel and crew’s worsening conditions on board, and to assist in the humanitarian act of enabling swift repatriation of the Master’s body and/or his ashes.
This case reporting is subject to update and continuous review.
All images used are with explicit permission of the deceased’s family.