Vietnam’s Foreign Affairs Ministry urges help to repatriate stranded seafarers

Crew’s cry for help on the hull of MV Viet Tin 01. The crew members have received food aid from the National Union of Seafarers of Peninsular Malaysia (NUSPM). Credit: NUSPM

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Vietnam has asked the Vietnamese embassy in Malaysia to make every effort to repatriate the 12 Vietnamese seafarers who are currently stranded on the Viet Tin 01 tanker.

Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Heng revealed this at a regular press conference on 17 July 2020.

MOFA has also requested the embassy to take care of the seafarers’ welfare.

The seafarers’ plight came to light after they scrawled the words “Help us. No food. No salary” on the vessel’s hull in June. Viet Tin 01 had been detained in Malaysian waters since December 2019, for allegedly anchoring without permission. The tanker owner, Viet Tin Transport, had apparently abandoned the vessel thereafter.

Heng said that MOFA was informed of the situation by the Vietnam Maritime Administration, which disclosed that the crew of Viet Tin 01 had boarded the vessel between 10 and 24 March 2020, as the tanker owner had intended to bring the ship back to Vietnam.

However, according to Heng, things went awry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the owner fell into financial difficulties and could not pay the crew’s salaries. Since 26 May, the crew has not received their meal and living allowances and their supplies have run out. Heng said that Viet Tin Transport has not been able to resolve the situation.

The Vietnamese embassy has contacted the crew members and, with MOFA, will hold discussions with relevant authorities in Malaysia to repatriate the seafarers.