A Captain Petitions his Government
Captain Anten Almeida has set up a change.org petition that is destined for India's Ministry of Shipping. He believes that an issue he encountered with a wife sailing on board, could also extend to others, including armed security guards.
He explains: “Recently I was faced with an issue where a wife (of Indian nationality) was fined at Brazil since she was not in possession of a Brazilian visa. The previous call to Brazil there was no fine. Several countries have rules which are enforced based on the whims and fancies of the immigration officer.
“Some foreign maritime nations now issue a discharge book for supernumeraries, and I feel the Indian shipping authorities should also consider this proposal, with safeguards as they deem fit. If there was a discharge book, there would be no fine for any wife sailing aboard. Supernumeraries are simply individuals who join a vessel but have no onboard responsibilities, i.e crew members' wives and children, individuals performing repair works on a vessel and of course armed or escorting guards.”
Almeida says the current situation is a “Catch 22.” Most immigration authorities insist that the wives and children cannot be put on the crew list since they are not in possession of a discharge book. Hence they classify them as passengers and then proceed to fine them for not being in possession of a visa for that country, he says. “The fact that supernumeraries are not passengers, as they are not on board holding a ticket and are not traveling under a crew contract either is totally ignored.”
As well as fines, these people face the threat of immediate repatriation to India. “This can be considered unfair treatment of the seafarer who has no premeditated intention of violating the immigration laws of any country visited by the vessel.”
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.