After a 15 month ordeal, the 6 crew members of the Greek ship Angelic Power have been given permission to return home. The crew of the vessel had been held in China over some financial dispute.
During this time, the seafarers have faced many difficulties including shortages in medical and food supplies. The crew didn’t have the necessary permission to land on Chinese soil. Moreover, their passports had been taken by the shipping agent
Many months of negotiations by the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry and Shipping & Island Policy Ministry had made this possible as china had accepted repatriation request.
The captain and the lieutenant of the ship will not be allowed to leave. They have to be on board along with 13 Filipino crew.
The abandoned ship which has a Marshall Islands owner named Panthalassa Marine Corporation has been seized by China in July 2020 over cargo unloading issues.
Since then, the ship has been anchored at the Guishan port of China. There has been a financial difference between the shipowner and the chartered over cargo unloading.
The Chinese authorities had also banned it from sailing away from the Port. The shipowner has been blamed for abandoning the crew and not fulfilling their wages, fuel and supplies requirement. They haven’t been communicating with the crew for 2 months now.
The Panhellenic Union of Merchant Navy Seamen (PENEN) have called out this absconding behaviour of the shipowner revealing that their repeated calls of medical care found no takers. Even the Chinese authorities had refused to help even when 5 of them had serious health issues
The shipowners have been using the crew as leverage. Greece had to declare the ship abandoned to facilitate the repatriation of the crew.
A statement by the 2 Greek ministries have revealed the extent of the problem when they underlined that Chinese courts had banned the ship’s departure right at the onset, prompting the ministry to act in a coordinated manner to safeguard the living conditions of the crew
The ministry has arranged to address the needs of the Greek captain and the lieutenant along with the 13 Filipino crew members. Their food, drinking water and fuel supplies will be given by the ministry.
This assistance has been coordinated by the Greek Embassy in Beijing and the Consulate General in Guangzhou whose officials have been following the matter closely keeping in contact with Chinese authorities.
Giannis Plakiotakis, the Greek Minister of Shipping and Island Policy has hoped for good news for the rest of the crew.
Meanwhile, PENEN had alleged that the Greek authorities had neglected the crew and allowed the financial dispute to foster, endangering the health of the crew.
They have further blasted the ministry for not naming the shipowner in the joint statement and for putting the whole onus on the Chinese alone.