The crude oil tanker Gulf Sky, currently under arrest by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) admiralty law injunction, is no longer in UAE waters, with the last AIS signal dating from eight days ago. Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) and Dominica flag registry were working together for the release of the 22 Indian crew onboard, who had not been paid for months. The disappearance of the vessel raises concerns over whether the crew are operating under duress.
The crew onboard the vessel appealed to HRAS in May 2020 to raise awareness of the living conditions onboard and delayed payment of wages. HRAS investigated the matter and the ship manager, United Islands Maritime Ventures, subsequently provided provisions to the vessel between March and May 2020. However, the issue of wages is still outstanding and so the vessel was arrested.
Dominica flag registry alerted the US authorities that the vessel was missing on 13 July, the vessel has been anchored in the UAE since February 2020. Relatives of crew members reached out to SAS, drawing attention to the situation, with one seafarer stating that he was worried for his elder brother who he had not heard from since 4 July.
“Our first priority is to ensure that the crew are safe, are not under any form of duress either internal or external to the vessel, and that their location is identified as soon as possible. We are working closely with the Dominica flag and the UAE Federal Transport Authority to seek clarity of the facts,” said David Hammond, CEO HRAS.
The vessels last recorded location showed it was anchored off the port of Khor Fakkan, UAE. Dominica’s flag registry also issued a prohibition to sail notice; in leaving the anchorage the vessel is in violation of both the injunction and sail notice.
The Gulf Sky was the subject of a case study report titled Seafarers’ Challenges during COVID-19: The Case of the MV Gulf Sky, published by HRAS on 27 May.
HRAS and Dominica flag had announced their collaboration, on 22 June, to get the seafarers remaining onboard safely repatriated back home.