Desperate crew members aboard the United Arab Emirates-flagged MV Tamim Aldar have returned to their deteriorating ship escorted by the UAE coastguard. The crew had abandoned the vessel using its sole remaining lifeboat to seek refuge on shore in June 2019.
The seafarers of the general cargo ship have been stranded 46 km off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah for over two years and, despite assurances from the shipowner Elite Way Marine Services, no bunkers, lube oil, potable water, or supplies have been received. The conditions on board prompted the four men to seek safety ashore; they are unable to run onboard electrical systems because of a lack of fuel, use phones as light sources, and local temperatures are regularly in the vicinity of 40°C. They sent a letter regarding their circumstances to the UAE authorities, the Indian Embassy, and Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) on 26 June.
Despite lodging a criminal complaint with the UAE coastguard, the seafarers returned to the vessel and continue to wait without any assurance from the owner that it will be resupplied in the near future. Additionally, crew members testified to HRAS that the coastguard, upon lodging their case as a criminal complaint, suggested that there was the possibility of them being jailed. While this event did not happen, it put the seafarers under unnecessary stress. However, despite being returned to the vessel, the crew thanked the coastguard for its support and assurances that it would seek justice on their behalf.
Many of the crew members have wages pending as of March 2016 from the shipowner. Safety at Sea has previously reported Elite Way’s abandonment of its crew, as well as that of Azraqmoiah (who have been repatriated), and the lack of effect formally banning the company has had on the plight of these seafarers. Little has changed in the interim. According to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, while crew members with unpaid wages are entitled to recoup their losses from the sale of the vessel, Elite Way has prevented this from happening, claiming unfavourable market conditions. This affects not only these seafarers who remain in terrible condition and far from home and their loved ones, but also their dependents who are struggling with the loss of promised income. Mobile coverage on board is spotty and for an abandoned crew, the lack of communication has been the source of significant distress.
Second engineer Vikas Mishra has called this treatment “torture” and repeatedly claimed that Elite Way has merely offered false promises over the last two years. While the crew’s case has repeatedly received widespread media coverage since 2018, the crew continues to remain trapped on board in a violation of seafarer human rights.
Safety at Sea has contacted Elite Way but received no response to date.