UCF 6 – Sued, Impounded And Stranded In War Zone Since July



What should have been an easy en-route delivery of the much awaited cargo of Electrical Transformers from China to Syria has turned out to be a lamentable situation for the Crew of UCF-6.

Crew captain Alexander Tkachenko recounts how, in July, when UCF-6 had called  the port of Tartous to discharge the cargo of 3 Electrical Transformers, they had received a warm welcome.  Public accompanied by media reporters had arrived to witness the delivery of Electrical Transformers, as the country was facing serious electricity shortages.  But, immediately after taking delivery of the goods, the Syrian State Electric Transmission Agency sued United Cargo Fleet, the shipowner at a local court.

The UCF-6, that had departed from Shanghai, China on 16th February 2015 with a crew of 10 Ukrainian sailors was unduly delayed in reaching Syria because of engine troubles.  They were supposed to offload the cargo at Syria and head towards Russia.  They could reach the Port of Tartous, Syria only in July. But, every since the ship owner was sued for 500,000 euros for delayed delivery, the ship has been impounded and cannot sail away.  The passports of all crew has also been taken over. Being stranded off the shore in a war zone has put the lives of all crew and captain at stake.  While several crew members flew back home, some still remain within the confines of the ship, now nine months since they set sail.

The crew remains witness to the war preparations led by the Russian front. They see plenty of military action at the port of Tartous, where Russians operate a naval base.  “There are three warships anchored  near the port and several patrol boats sailing around the area” narrates Tkachenko.

United Cargo Fleet’s financial director Mikhail Bogdanov responded to the suit; blaming the ship’s engine problems midway, but so far the Syrian government has not responded or replied regarding their plan of action.  In support of the Ukrainian sailors aboard the ship, the Ukrainian consul in Damascus, Andrei Gutovsky, had applied for permission to visit the sailors but the Syrian authorities did not get back to him.

Alexander Tkachenko feels that the Russian military has remained indifferent.  They have not in any way intervened with the Syrian Government to help the release of  ship and its crew, as they feel it is a commercial dispute.  Whereas the Ukrainians have called on the ship to inquire and offer help and support.

Source: Reuters