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Fifteen Seafarers Abandoned on Ship Without Rudder

14 May 2020

Fifteen seafarers have been abandoned on a Spanish-flagged ship that does not have a rudder. The crewmembers have been left without electricity, lights, wi-fi, refrigeration, GPS, security or safety lights on MV Celanova (IMO 9268394), reports the ITF.


With batteries running low on their mobile phones, the crew, trapped 13 nautical miles out at sea, have been making calls for urgent assistance as the vessel is running dangerously low on fuel and diesel oil and the food, fresh water and medicines.


“We are strong people, but we are exhausted and now bad weather and no option to do anything if (the) vessel drag(s) the anchor,” Pedro texted the ITF on May 10.  “I hope Monday could be finished this and next week could be able to berth. Under the present condition is very dangerous our situation. We will survive until Monday.” Crew have been sleeping on deck as there is no air conditioning, but storms on Sunday night forced the seafarers to take shelter in the dark below deck.


The 7,600 gross tonnage Celanova is an LPG tanker owned by GLOBALGAS SA, Madrid, Spain. The ITF says the company has left the crew without pay for months. The LPG tanker was forced to discharge its cargo of Butadiene gas to another vessel on March 7, as the vessel was running out of fuel to keep the gas refrigerated.


The ordeal began on December 7 when the tanker broke down and lost her rudder off the Philippines coast. Ten days later she was towed to anchor in Manila Bay. Philippines Port State Control detained the vessel on February 14 after authorities found her to be in breach of the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) due to unpaid wages, following notification by the ITF.


The ITF is urgently requesting Filipino authorities to allow the ship into port to facilitate assistance from the flag state and the vessel's insurer, the American Club.


Local authorities have agreed but only on condition a tug is provided alongside the tanker and on standby while she is moored. “I’ve worked over 14 years as an ITF inspector, I have dealt with many abandoned vessels so far and this is the first time someone has asked crew pay tug hire,” said Luz Baz, ITF Coordinator, Spain. “The ship needs to be in port. The crew can’t start the engine. Something has to be done. The crew are desperate. They need fuel, fresh water, provisions, medication, safety parts,” she said.


Some of the Spanish and Caribbean crew have been on board since August, others since November.


Despite the Philippines being a signatory to the MLC requiring governments to facilitate crew repatriation during abandonment, no action has been taken, says the ITF. The ITF has written to the International Labour Organization requesting their intervention.

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