The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) is assisting the crew of the vessel C Star, who have been abandoned unpaid in Barcelona by its charterers, the rightwing youth group Defend Europe. The ship was at the centre of the group’s comic opera efforts to block vessels rescuing refugees and migrants from sinking boats in the Mediterranean.
ITF seafarers’ section chair David Heindel commented: “Oh, the irony. This group charters a British-owned, Mongolian flag of convenience ship, with a Sri Lankan crew to protest migration into Europe. Then abandons the crew in Europe.
“This so-called mission began as a farce, played out as a farce, and now it’s ended as a farce. Famously, the C Star was spurned at almost every stop it tried to make by local citizens and governments. Crew members have claimed asylum, and the ship has reportedly both been investigated on suspicion of people smuggling and had to call for help from one of the NGO search and rescue vessels it was supposedly blocking.”
He concluded. “This vessel has been like a clown car on water: overcrowded, comical, and, just like the ‘mission’ it was on, the doors quickly fell off. Sadly, it’s no surprise that the overgrown schoolboys behind it all have now abandoned the crew and left them to be looked after by the organisations they aimed to castigate, the Red Cross, the Spanish Coast Guard and the local maritime authorities.”
There are currently eight crew on the ship, which has been moored at sea off Barcelona since 26 September. The ITF is working with local port state control to provide the crew with food, water and fuel. As the local ITF inspector states, “The crew are not alone”. He confirms that a decision has been made today by port state control that the ship will be allowed to berth for humanitarian reasons.
No word has yet been received from the ship’s owner.