The ITF has come to the aid of the crew of a Turkish-owned, Panama-flagged ship inspected in Chennai, India who were found not to have been paid for several months, while their vessel was unsafe.
The Madras High Court arrested the Karaagac bulk carrier after the deficiencies were brought to light by ITF inspector K Sreekumar and the chaplain of the local Sailors’ Society. They found that the 21 crew – from Georgia, India, Turkey and Ukraine – were owed USD59,000 in wages due for the last three months.
As well as non-payment of wages, the ship was found to have deficiencies in its ballast and water ingress systems, fire alarm, navigational equipment and rescue boat. Crew members also reported two incidents that had posed a threat to their lives, and that some crew had been injured while working on the ship. The Karaagac had previously been arrested in Turkey on similar issues.
Mr Sreekumar commented that conditions on the vessel clearly violated the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, which lays down minimum international working and living standards for seafarers. “The owner has to ensure the ship is safe while she is sailing in the high seas. The crew members’ precious lives cannot be put at risk,” he said.
Following the arrest, nine crew members have now been repatriated with their back wages paid, and all the crew signed off, with an Indian crew on board while the remaining deficiencies are being addressed.