The ITF has deplored the inaction of the authorities and ship owner to end the two-year ordeal of the five remaining abandoned crew on board the Bahrain-flagged Bramco 1. The three Myanmar and two Bangladeshi sailors continue to endure intolerable conditions and are suffering the strain of their families’ impoverishment.
Despite high-level diplomatic interventions, the competent authorities of flag and port state seem unable or unwilling to intervene to prevent the crew suffering as collateral damage in the commercial dispute between the owner in Bahrain and the COSCO shipyard in Guangzhou, China.
The ITF has arrested the vessel on behalf of the crew but it is unknown how long the legal process could take. Meanwhile, it has provided interim support to the families, as well as provisions and medical supplies to the crew on board, through much-appreciated collaboration with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and the Sailors’ Society, which has given the sailors USD 1,000 each.
Jason Lam, ITF inspector in Hong Kong, visited the vessel on 11 July. He reported that living conditions on board were bad, with no air conditioning when the outside temperature was 33ºC, forcing the sailors to use fans to keep cool. He added that one of the Myanmar sailors had high blood pressure, another severe toothache and the Bangladeshi fitter looked very weak from a foot affected by diabetes.
ITF maritime co-ordinator Jacqueline Smith said: “Our inspectors have been doing all they can to ease the plight of the crew, but we’re simply bandaging an ongoing sore that has festered for far too long.
“We demand that the ship owner, flag and port states step up to the mark and facilitate a solution to what amounts to the ongoing torture of innocent seafarers.”