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SEAFARERS AT RISK

MS Blankanese

Since the formation of the European Union it seems to NAUTICAL LOG that the quality of the vessels in many companies operating out of European Ports has gone down. The training and skills of many of the crews manning these same types of ships is highly questionable. Were it not for the constant vigilance of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the work of its Inspectors the maritime world could be in an even sorrier state. The leadership of and from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is weak and not anything like as effective as it could or should be. Over the years we have received reports of ships being detained and many reports of crews remaining unpaid while the owners abscond or hide under layers of companies. So while it is disappointing to receive today's report from our EU correspondent it is unfortunately no surprise.

The ITF inspector for Ireland is seeking the urgent assistance of the Irish Department of Transportation regarding a vessel berthed in New Ross, Co.Wexford. The vessel is the MS Blankanese and the unpaid crew are owed $75,059 in wages. At the request of the Seafarers Union of Russia (SUR) Mr. Ken Fleming the ITF Inspector boarded the vessel and confirmed the crew are unpaid since August 2010. Mr. Fleming states

"Apart from arrears of pay there is very little meat on board, no fresh vegetables apart from potatoes. There is no fruit juice or yogurt, items essential to seafarers health and only 15 litres of water to last them to their next destination which remains, as yet, unknown. Given the past record of this company I think there is an obligation on the ITF and Irish authorities to ensure compliance before the vessel disappears over the horizon."

NAUTICAL LOG would very much agree because in 2006 and 2007 Mr. Fleming had to deal with two vessels operated by Uniships Limited of Riga, the MS Merchant Bravery and MS Merchant Brilliant, which was finally resolved by the payment of $500,000 in arrears to the crews of these two vessels.

It would appear the Ireland is considered by these type of shipowners to be slack in enforcement of maritime labour laws and thus is seen as a safe haven for these operators. As a dual national of EU/Ireland and the United States it makes one ashamed to hear of these incidents occurring and not being resolved immediately by the Irish Authorities.

Contact:
Mr. Ken Fleming, ITF-SIPTU 087-647-8636 or
Mr. Padraig Yeates, PYE Comm, 01-828-4510 and 087-260-5297

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