x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ship's crew still stranded off Dubai

A crew stranded on a ship anchored off the coast of Dubai is still in limbo, despite receiving an emergency delivery of basic supplies.

A crew stranded on a ship anchored off the coast of Dubai is still in limbo, despite receiving an emergency delivery of basic supplies. The 16-man crew, consisting of Russian, Estonian, Filipino and Ukranian nationals, has been stranded for almost two weeks on board the Magdalena, which is flying the flag of Antigua and Barbuda. After an engine failure left the ship adrift in the Indian Ocean, it was towed toward Dubai for repairs.

The crew had barely enough water, food and fuel to sustain them until the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) arranged a delivery of supplies on September 5. Crew members are unsure of their next step. The ship's owner has refused to pay them for the last four months, according to the ship's captain, with back salaries totalling US$230,000 (Dh845,000). The ship's owner, BJR Shipping based in Germany, said yesterday it was working to get together money for repairs and salaries.

"Today I called for a shareholder meeting on September 17," said Klaus Wibben, the chief executive. "The agenda will be to bring more capital in. There is no other way. "I hope that we will be able to pay the workers in a maximum of two weeks." The captain of the ship, Roman Vostrikov, said the situation was "not good" before the supplies arrived. "We had limited quantity of provision, but our fresh water and diesel oil for the generator had finished," he said.

"We tried to give to the crew hope that eventually they will receive water and provisions. "Now they just need to strengthen themselves and to believe." According to Capt Vostrikov, the vessel, carrying general cargo, was on its way from Colombo to Fujairah when the ship's main engine failed in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The crew first contacted the ITF on August 28, but the consulate did not hear of their plight until a week later.

"Our primary concern is that they have their basic human rights of food, water and shelter. If they wish to leave the ship and the country, they have our support," an official from the consulate said. The ship now has enough fresh water to last two weeks, provisions for three weeks and diesel oil for approximately 50 days. The crew's main concern now is their pay, Capt Vostrikov said. nsamaha@thenational.ae with additional reporting by Nathalie Gillet