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Maritime News

Stranded crew members fly home

 

Twenty-one crew of a chemical tanker stranded in Dubai waters since May have been flown home after financial problems with its bankrupt owner were resolved.

The Samho Jasper was one of three Samho Shipping tankers stuck in Dubai waters whose crew were allowed to return to their country.

The men had limited water and power and no salaries after the South Korean firm declared bankruptcy in April. Some needed medical care ashore.

They received their back pay before going home to Indonesia and Myanmar last week. The Samho Jasper was reclaimed by Korean banks and renamed the Golden Lake. It has left Dubai waters.

The Dubai Maritime City Authority, which oversees such cases, worked with the shipowner, South Korean consulate and port authorities to arrange the deal.

"DMCA successfully facilitated negotiations with the parties involved that allowed the maritime authority to work out a solution without having to resort to litigation that could potentially take years to resolve," the authority said.

Two oil tankers owned by the company remain in Dubai. The Samho Dream arrived in March. As months passed it lost power and communications, and some crew members fell ill. They were repatriated last month.

The vessel could leave in two weeks after undergoing repairs, said Khalid Meftah, DMCA's director of maritime corporate development.

The Samho Crown, which arrived in January, has been impounded by the courts over bankruptcy claims and cannot leave. Its nine crew are all in good health, said Mr Meftah.

To resolve cases more quickly, DMCA is developing a protocol based on international agreements on how to do so, said Mr Meftah. It is co-ordinating with port authorities and the flag states, or countries where the ships are registered.

Fifteen to 20 cases of stranded ships occur each year in Dubai, said Rev Stephen Miller, who until this summer headed for a decade the local branch of the international organisation The Mission to Seafarers, which helps abandoned crews.

"The men who are stuck in the middle of it all, they're the ones who don't get fed," he said by phone from Hong Kong, where he has been posted.

In addition to financial problems, Samho Shipping has suffered two pirate hijackings. Last November it paid a record US$9 million (Dh33m) ransom to free the Samho Dream after it had been held for six months.

Another oil tanker, the Samho Jewellery, was hijacked in January. South Korean naval forces were deployed to rescue the vessel and freed all 21 crew members, though the captain was shot and seriously injured. Eight pirates died in the fighting, and five were brought to South Korea to face trial.

Date: 25 Aug 2011                                                             Source: Thenational.ae

 

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