Five crew members of the ice breaker Polar Star have finally arrived home after being abandoned in the Canary Islands, thanks to the efforts of ITF inspectors in Las Palmas, Lithuania and Canada.
The Russian and Lithuanian seafarers were part of a crew which joined the ship during May and June in Las Palmas. They had been employed by Allan Skovlund, managing director of Danica Crewing and chief executive officer of Danavis Marine, to start repair works and then after three weeks sail the vessel to Klaipeda, Lithuania, to complete the operations.
Instead, they found themselves caught up in a conflict between the Astican shipyard and the Chinati Management Corporation, a London-based investment group which is buying the ship from its Canadian owner, 3264741 Nova Scotia Limited.
Repairs stopped because necessary parts failed to materialise, the men’s access to food and other supplies was restricted, the crew was unable to leave the ship and access to the vessel was limited. The men turned for help to the ITF inspector in Las Palmas, Gonzalo Galan, who successfully negotiated food supplies and access to the vessel.
Despite several assurances that the men would receive their July wages given by Chinati Management Corporation, nothing materialised and some crew members decided to give up and pay for themselves to go home. Five were determined to remain on board while the ITF negotiated with the owner on their behalf. On 24 August the owner agreed to repatriate them and on 29 August the seafarers finally flew home.
Gonzalo Galan said: “The crew are very relieved to be home, but they have not received their salaries yet.
“The Cornwallis Financial Corporation, which represents 3264741 Nova Scotia Limited, have promised our inspector in Halifax, Canada that they will not complete the sale of the vessel until the crew is fully paid. We will keep working on that.”
The Polar Star was used for Polar expeditions and was abandoned at the Astican Shipyard in Las Palmas with unpaid repair bills reaching USD1.6 million in 2011.