Four Greek crew members are being held on board two bulker vessels that were arrested by the local authorities off the coast of Djibouti for outstanding debts.
The two vessels, Ptolemeos and Arrybas, have been held since September 2019 as the ship managers, Athens-based Probulk Shipping & Trading, owe an estimated USD10 million to banks and suppliers.
Further, the already repatriated seafarers from the bulkers claim that they have not been paid seven months’ worth of wages.
“Strenuous efforts have been made to see all the crew repatriated and paid their last four months’ wages but this has unfortunately met with resistance from the local administrative authorities,” representatives from West P&I Club said in a statement.
Despite freeing the majority of the seafarers onboard, the Djibouti authorities have stated that they will only let the remaining four leave if they are replaced by other crew.
It is understood that the detained vessels will be auctioned off to pay off the ship managers debts, though it is hoped the remaining crew will be repatriated beforehand. The chief engineer, it has been reported, is suffering from health problems and was allowed to leave the ship to be hospitalised in January, though the Djibouti authorities have kept his passport.
The Greek government is trying to reach an agreement with the Djibouti authorities but “I’ve received absolutely no answer,” Yiannis Plakiotakis, Greece’s shipping minister told Parliament.
According to IHS Markits’ Ship Tracking portal AISLive, both vessels remain anchored off the coast of Djibouti.