On Wednesday, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) reported that the 17 crewmembers of the bulker Sea Honest, who were abandoned without pay or provisions in Algeria last summer, have finally returned home.
In January, ITF inspector Mohamed Arrachedi warned the vessel's operator that the conditions on board the Sea Honest were dire and morale was desperately low. "The crew are on the brink," he wrote. "I believe there's a real risk of suicide – that's how desperate they are. The company has washed its hands of them, yet it continues to operate other vessels."
His appeal had the desired effect: ten Indian and Turkish seafarers were paid and repatriated last month, and the last group of five Indian seafarers left the ship last week en route to Mumbai, seven months after the beginning of their ordeal. Two Indian seafarers have been paid and have opted to remain on board, and the ITF understands that the vessel's operator has recruited a new crew.
“The good news is that this long-suffering crew is now being repatriated, and the even better news is that they are now in receipt of the wages they have been owed," said Arrachedi. “Their patience and resolution has paid off, and we all appreciate the help given them by Algerian trade unions, the port authority of Algiers Port and the embassies of India and Turkey. Without their and the ITF’s help these men would have starved.”
A crewmember expressed his thanks in a letter addressed to Arrachedi. “We the Indian officers and crew of MV Sea Honest would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the help and support you have given us all these 7 months. We are very thankful for the provisions and moral support you provided us when our life was in danger. Today all our problems are solved and it is all because of your hard work and concern.”
The Panama-flagged Sea Honest is owned and operated by an Istanbul-based shipping firm. Her Equasis record shows two port state control detentions in 2016, both for wage issues and equipment deficiencies. The second detention, in Algiers, found problems with her main engine, fire doors, freeboard marks, medical supplies, provisions and general cleanliness, including the alleged presence of "Dirty Parasites."