British port authorities have boarded six cruise ships anchored close to London and Bristol amid “critical issues” over the welfare of just about 1,500 crew stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic.
One of many vessels, the Astoria, has been briefly detained following studies to the Maritime and Coastguard Company (MCA) that it was planning to go away the nation with out repatriation secured for the crew.
Katy Ware, the director of maritime security and requirements and the UK’s everlasting consultant to the Worldwide Maritime Group, mentioned: “We’ll all the time take studies round crew welfare significantly and we now have used our powers because the port state management authority to hold out this detention in order that we are able to examine extra totally.”
A whole lot of crew members have been stranded in Tilbury Docks within the Thames estuary for months since cruises to Iceland and elsewhere had been cancelled because the Covid-19 disaster deepened.
There have been unverified studies of starvation strikes, with Indian crew members making a direct attraction to India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, to intervene. One particular person has died of a coronary heart assault, the ships’ homeowners mentioned.
The All India Seafarer and Common Employees Union wrote to the Indian overseas workplace three days in the past saying that “within the coronavirus outbreak our Indian residents [are] caught in overseas waters from previous 90 days and need assistance”.
The letter requesting pressing repatriation of 164 Astoria crew members mentioned most of the crew had begun a starvation strike onboard. It mentioned they’d additionally staged a peaceable protest on the ship asking the Indian authorities and state officers to assist.
The ships’ proprietor, Cruise and Maritime Voyages, mentioned this week that 50 out of 262 crew members on the Astoria had “commenced a strike, together with now not performing routine upkeep work onboard”.
“Our crew have endured a chronic interval quarantined on board our ships throughout lockdown and are understandably anxious and distressed” with many unable to fly dwelling because of international journey restrictions, mentioned Christian Verhounig, CMV’s chief govt. He mentioned the “overwhelming majority of European crew had been repatriated” and the group was in “excessive degree talks with Indian and different worldwide governments” to attempt to resolve the repatriation downside. Some crew would journey again to Myanmar this Sunday, he added.
The corporate mentioned 1,449 crew had been onboard the six ships. In reply to allegations that some crew had gone on starvation strike, it mentioned that each one members of workers had been consuming. Customs restrictions imply the crews can’t get provides of alcohol or cigarettes.
The corporate is in talks with potential lenders and traders because it scrambles to safe funding to see it through the coronavirus pandemic.
Delivery logs present the Astoria left Mexico in mid-February, arriving in Poole, Dorset, on 14 March simply as Europe went in lockdown. It arrived in Tilbury docks a day later, with crew caught there since.
The corporate mentioned it had been because of set sail from Poole on an Iceland cruise that was cancelled due to the disaster. It additionally confirmed that one member of workers on one other of its different ships, the Vasco da Gama, had died of pure causes.
“Cruise and Maritime Voyages studies that within the early hours of this morning a crew member onboard the Vasco da Gama at London Tilbury handed away following a coronary heart assault,” it mentioned in an announcement earlier this week.
The MCA mentioned it had detained the Astoria, which sails below a Madeira flag of comfort, on Thursday with inspections aimed toward investigating studies of welfare issues on all six ships below manner from Friday morning.
“The detention is a preventative measure consistent with UK laws, so that a full inspection of the ship associated to the maritime labour conference may be carried out earlier than its meant departure. It can’t depart the port till the inspection is accomplished,” it mentioned.
“5 different ships in the identical firm – World Cruise Traces Ltd – 4 others primarily based at Tilbury and one at Bristol, are additionally being inspected. Appearing because the port state management authority for the UK, the MCA has taken this motion following a lot of critical issues which had been raised concerning the welfare of the crew.”
The seafarers’ organisation the Worldwide Transport Employees’ Federation mentioned it was “conscious of the state of affairs and was monitoring it”. If obligatory it could intervene to safeguard the crew, it mentioned.
The Astor, one of many different ships in Tilbury, left Réunion within the Indian Ocean on 14 March, travelling to South Africa, Portugal and Germany earlier than arriving in Tilbury on 27 Could.
The Columbus has been anchored in Tilbury since April after a journey from Sri Lanka, whereas the Magellan arrived in Tilbury on eight April from Iceland.
The Vasco da Gama has been docked in Tilbury since 1 Could having arrived from Australia, whereas the ship in Avonmouth in Bristol has been there since 22 March having sailed from Jordan. Sources mentioned one of many issues was that the world highlight had shone on passengers on the peak of the pandemic however the crews “had been simply as affected and are being left behind”.
— to www.theguardian.com