Breaking Free: 13 Abandoned Seafarers Finally Rescued After 5 Months

Credit: Cecilia Ravalli/Pexels

Thanks to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), thirteen Filipino seafarers who had spent more than five months aboard the Yangtze Harmony, a livestock carrier ship that had been abandoned, have returned home, as reported by Splash247.

Abandoning the crew

After the ship was impounded in Singapore in October 2022 due to an unpaid fuel bill, its owners fled the scene, leaving the boat and its crew behind. At that point, the shipowner stopped paying the crew as a whole as well, leaving them without income or a means of transportation. The crew owes $429,972 as of April.

The Yangtze Harmony’s shipowner, a Hong Kong-based company, was accused by the ITF of leaving crew frequently, and its vessels had previously been held for breaking safety and crew welfare laws.

Legal system criticised 

The shipping company’s simultaneous abandonment of a second crew in addition to the Yangtze Harmony was something the ITF inspectors did not anticipate.

Between the Yangtze Harmony and the Yangtze Fortune, the ITF’s months of effort would help the crew get $1 million in back pay and the 43 sailors’ airfare home.

After the Australian Federal Court at Portland, Victoria confiscated Harmony’s sister ship, also a livestock ship, due to the owner’s refusal to make necessary repairs, Soar Harmony Shipping abandoned the Yangtze Fortune.

Although the Australian case was promptly resolved, the ITF criticised Singapore’s legal system for keeping the crew in suspense.

Singapore violated the law

The Yangtze Harmony was impounded by the Singapore Sheriff’s Court on October 25 of last year on behalf of Glander International Bunkering due to an overdue fuel payment. The legal process to sell the ship and settle its debts, such as the $429,972 in outstanding salaries to the crew, was then launched.

When a shipowner falls behind on payments, “it’s a complicated process in any jurisdiction,” according to Steve Trowsdale, the ITF’s inspectorate coordinator. But authorities must understand that they have a duty under international law to respond quickly when the wellbeing of the crew is in danger.

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) was ratified by Singapore in 2011. This outlines how abandonment situations are supposed to be handled. Trowsdale suggested that Singapore may have violated the law by delaying the procedures for more than five months.


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Source: Splash247



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