Crew Stranded off Australia Without Food, Fuel
Emergency supplies have been rushed to 20 crew members on a bulk carrier loaded with coal which is stranded off Australia near Gladstone, Queensland.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation Australia (ITF) says 20 Chinese nationals on board the Five Stars Fujian have been stranded off the Port of Gladstone since July 19, after the owners “vanished,” apparently after a pay dispute with the crew.
The crew members have told ITF inspectors they have not been paid for more than two months and basic food supplies are due to run out this week.
ITF Australia Assistant Coordinator Matt Purcell says it is shameful conduct in Australian waters by a foreign owned and chartered vessel.
“For the owners to abandon their crew, virtually leaving them for dead, is beyond shocking. Even when they were being paid, the crew was barely receiving $2 an hour, which is well below international standards,” Purcell said.
The Chinese owners, Fujian Shipping based in Hong Kong, have allegedly failed to respond to any request from Australian maritime authorities.
Two inspectors from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) inspected the ship on August 12, and it was detained for deficiencies relating to insufficient food for its intended voyage and crew wages.
AMSA supplied the crew with three days-worth of emergency provisions last Friday.
ABC News reports Queensland Ports Minister Mark Bailey saying: “We've got a disgraceful situation where we've got shipowners who've left seafarers halfway around the world, stranded without food, without fuel.”
Bailey said the Gladstone Port Corporation made a helicopter drop of food to the stranded seafarers and more supplies would be sent out by boat, but the ship did not have enough fuel to continue its voyage.
At this stage, the ship doesn’t pose any immediate threat to the Great Barrier Reef or the coastline.