As an investigation begins on the Suez Canal grounded ship, fear of legal actions against the Indian crew of the ship looms.
At present investigators are scrutinizing the bottom of the erstwhile grounded ship Ever Given to determine the cause of the grounding.
Meanwhile, support for the crew grows as they are likely to be implicated. The incident blocked the Suez Canal, a crucial shipping route between Asia and Europe. The blockage caused a loss of $10 billion per day.
ITF Cautions About Rushing To Judgement
The Chairman of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, ITF, David Heindel has issued a word of caution in this matter. Heindel has asked everyone to be cautious and doesn’t rush to deliver a judgement. He stressed the issue of crew fatigue urging investigators to probe whether fatigue played any role.
“Too often, seafarers are unfairly blamed for incidents at sea. When proper investigations are conducted we are able to stand back and see the systematic factors which drive bad outcomes”, said Heindel.
On March 23, the Japanese-owned ship was caught in a sandstorm and got grounded unable to navigate due to invisibility. The bow of the ship sank on the eastern bank of the canal while the stern went down on the western bank.
It took nearly 6 days to refloat the ship which stranded as many as 400 ships in the Canal. Ultimately the ship was freed courtesy of a high tide caused by the supermoon. 14 tugboats pulled the ship out of the canal.
Human or Technical Error
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Egyptian-owned Suez Canal Authority has revealed that the grounding happened due to other issues. The sandstorms and the weather wasn’t the main reason.
“Such grave accidents may not be caused by a single factor, part of it could be the wind, another part could be the human element, and another part could be technical. All of these factors will become apparent in the investigation”, said Osama Rabie, Suez Canal Authority
The shipowner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, said that they will take part in the investigation.
Indian Govt. Worried About the Crew
At present the Indian government and seafarers organizations are worried about the Indian crew of the ship. They fear that the 25 crew will be made scapegoats for the incident.
The National Union of Seafarers of India has assured the seafarers that they are with them and will support the crew in all possible ways.
“We await the impartial inquiry into the incident. In unflinching solidarity, NUSI stands behind the seafarers of Ever Given, in support whenever required and in whatever manner required”, said Abdulgani Serang, NUSI general secretary.
As per recent reports, the divers who looked in the underside of the ship found no other damage than some minor issues with the bow. However, this isn’t sufficient to immobilize the ship.
“Slight to medium” damage was found at the vessel’s bulbous bow.
Support for the Crew
Abhijeet Sangle, head of the All India Seafarers and General Workers Union, said that the investigation team will determine “who’s at fault; the ship captain or the canal pilot who helped steer the big vessel through the narrow canal.”
The ship’s operator, Berhard Schulte ShipManagement, BSSM claimed that preliminary investigation has ruled out any engine failure or mechanical failure.
“The hard work and tireless professionalism of the master and crew are greatly appreciated,” said BSSM.