Amit (Name Changed for anonymity), a deck cadet from India completed his pre-sea training from one of the most prestigious maritime institutes of India. After the completion of his pre-sea, he went out in search of a job onboard merchant ships. Even after trying for a long time, he was unable to secure a job of his dreams, he was shattered, his hopes were fading out.
But he was not ready to give up, he was determined to fulfill his long-time dream of serving onboard a ship, so he approached a RPSL agent, who promised to get him a decent job in exchange of a “Service Charge”. Amit agreed to pay a hefty amount of INR 600K (USD 8600) for 3 sailings, still he was happy as he can foresee a great career ahead, he hoped of earning good money and supporting his family, Amit can finally sense his dream turning into reality, he was excited.
But the merchant seaman’s excitement soon turned into a nightmare. The agent sent him on a vessel trading in Mid-east, owned by a Dubai-based company. When he joined the ship, he was shocked to see the living conditions onboard, reality hit him hard. There begins his story of misery and harassment.
He found out that all officers and Engineers onboard the ship are from Pakistan, 8 crew members including Amit were Indians. He never saw the nationality of the officers a problem, as he believed that all are seafarers irrespective of the country they come from. But soon he realised he was wrong as the Pakistani officers used their ranks to inflict sheer harassment on the Indian Crew.
Amit, while speaking to one of our correspondents, revealed “They (Pakistani Officers) mistreat us, If anything happens onboard, all of that becomes our (Indian Crew) fault. The Captain threatens us by saying that he will put red mark on our CDC.”
Amit, who joined as a Deck Cadet was forced to work as a Mess boy for 2 months onboard the ship.
6 crew members including Amit have already finished their contracts, while 2 other Indian seafarers are willing to go home because of the gross harassment they are facing onboard.
Amit has now completed 11 months onboard, without any ray of hope for sign off anytime soon.
“Due to the corona pandemic they (Pakistani Officers) know we can’t sign off, they are taking us for granted. Me personally and all other crew are depressed and are looking a way to get back home from this hell. Most of us have completed our contract and some completed their sea time and are willing to go home but I guess that’s not possible as they are asking us to pay for our tickets once the flights starts,” says Amit.
While further describing the ordeal of the Indian crew on board, he revealed, “the provisions we get are not eatable, all things are taken by officers. We are not provided with food properly for past one month because of Ramzan.”
We don’t even get enough drinking water, they issue us only 2 ltrs of water for a day.
The Dubai-based company, which owns the vessel, is not registered with the ITF, thus making it easy for the Captain to avoid any action and continue the harassment of the crew.
We already complained to the Port officials in Mina Saqr port, but they didn’t take any action as the owner of this vessel have some contacts there, revealed Amit.
Even the condition of the vessel is bad and does not comply with the International regulations, still such vessels continue to operate endangering the lives of many seafarers.
“All double bottom tanks have holes, even a hatch is cut open to take out the sea water rushing in through center tank and only we Indians are sent in to repair them without any work permits or safety.” Amit told.
Presently the vessel is at Kuwait Anchorage, Port of Shuaibah. The vessel’s next port of call is Fujairah, where it is expected to arrive by the end of this month (May 2020).
“If any action can be taken it is in Fujairah port, please convey our situation to the Indian embassy and the authorities, please help us to get out of here,” said a dejected Amit.
I fEEL DEAD FROM INSIDE
Amit contacted The Maritime Post, and said “You are our last hope, please help us to get out of this hell.”
The case of these 8 Indian crew members is far from unique, as there are thousands of young Indian seafarers who are undergoing such agony as the fraud agents and unregistered crewing agencies continue to flourish in India. These agencies pose a number of serious risks to seafarers – abandonment on vessels outside India, unpaid wages, prison time from working onboard ships carrying illegal cargo, and sea time not counted by the Directorate General of Shipping, to name a few.
The Maritime Post has not revealed the name of the ship and the owner, to maintain the anonymity of the crew onboard, we will provide the names and other available details to the concerned authorities and organisations.
Disclaimer: The above information was provided by a stranded seafarer, while we have received the photographs to confirm the allegations. The matter and facts can be ascertained only after a fair investigation is carried out by the concerned authorities. We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the facts, as described by the stranded seafarer.