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Abandoned for Christmas: Fishing Crew Left in Limbo for Nine Months

port of mombasa
Port of Mombasa (file image)

Published Dec 16, 2021 8:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

Nine months after the Kenyan-flagged fishing vessel Ra'Horakhty was abandoned by her owners at the port of Mombasa,10 crewmembers are still stuck on board, awaiting the resolution of a court case that will determine whether they can recover their wages. 

The vessel's owners stopped paying wages in March 2021, then ceased providing food and fuel. Maritime charity Stella Maris has stepped in to supply the crew with cooking oil, rice and meat, and it is advocating with local authorities on their behalf. 

The crew's Kenyan and Tanzanian members have already been paid and repatriated, and six Indonesian crewmembers flew home with the help of the Indonesian Embassy on December 15. 10 Korean and Vietnamese crewmembers remain on board, including the captain, Seo Hyundo.

“It is very distressing that the remaining ten seafarers will spend Christmas away from their families. The delicate humanitarian situation that the seafarers are in should rightfully prompt the fast tracking of the case to a just and quick conclusion,” said Stella Maris' Mombasa director, Margaret Masibo. "We are concerned with how long the court case will take, and the financial struggle and psychological strain on the crew and their families."

The case illustrates a wider problem of seafarer abandonment, Stella Maris said. According to the ILO Abandonment of Seafarers database, 66 ships have been reported abandoned since the start of 2021. Seafarers' unions and welfare organizations are often the first responders in these cases, advocating for the victims and providing them with supplies when low-end shipowners walk away.