ITF, SIU, Others Assist Stranded FOC Crew in Baltimore

 

January 2017

 

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The crew of the Malta-flagged NewLead Granadino, a 5,900- dwt tanker detained just outside the Port of Baltimore, is grateful to both the SIU and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) after receiving back pay and also being brought supplies several times since the vessel arrived in port on Sept. 20.

 

The 18 men aboard the runaway- flag vessel previously had been stranded at sea for days, had not been paid in four months and were running low on provisions (and almost completely out of water).

 

“The NewLead Granadino is a tank ship that experienced an engine problem on its way to the U.S. When it got to the Port of Baltimore, the Coast Guard conducted a port state examination and we found additional problems and had to detain the vessel in the port,” said Commander Charles Bright, chief of preventions with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region.

 

Chief among the ship’s problems is a broken crankshaft, which will need to be repaired at a cost of more than $1 million, according to initial estimates. It is unclear whether the shipowners or the bank will pay to repair the vessel, and until repairs are made, the vessel will remain at anchorage in Baltimore.

 

“I was on board Sept. 20 when she arrived in port,” said SIU ITF Inspector Barbara Shipley.

 

She continued, “I saw a lot of tired men. They had been broken down at sea for 11 days, and before getting into port their rations were very low. These men were completely worn out. The men had been handwashing their clothes and drinking condensed water from the A/C, as the remaining water had been rationed for cooking and washing dishes only.”

 

Although some provisions were delivered to the vessel, the ship completely exhausted its supply by Oct. 6.

 

“It was a struggle to keep food on this ship,” Shipley explained. “For November’s provisions, the manning agent actually paid for the provisions, and it was a feat to get fresh water on board for cooking and showers. As of now the bank has hired an interim ship management company as consultants to handle the daily needs of the vessel. The interim ship management company has worked closely with the ITF to make sure these men are being taken care of and wages are brought current.”

 

Shipley added, “The Baltimore International Seafarers Center (BISC) was also a huge part of the coordination and support for these men of the NewLead Granadino. The BISC received cash donations that were used to buy the men warm long-johns and additional supplies that were needed. The ship’s boiler has been broken with no spare parts to fix it.”

 

Upon hearing of the situation, SIU Port Agent Elizabeth Brown immediately offered assistance. She received and coordinated donations (many of them accumulated at the SIU hall) from the community and fielded many calls of offers to help. Brown and Shipley have been frequently visiting the vessel, not only delivering supplies, but also working with the men to help get their back pay wired to their families overseas. The crew has been paid up through Nov. 16, and six of the men who were not on the Safe Manning Certification were allowed to leave the vessel and return home.

 

“At this point, there is still no heat aboard the ship, nor anyone scheduled to board and fix it,” said Brown. “The multiple parties involved have been discussing the repairs, but the fact remains that these men are living with no heat.”

 

The crew has received donations from local Baltimore restaurants, as well as the community at large. Believe Wireless Broadband has donated wireless equipment and access to the stranded mariners, while donations collected by the SIU and the Baltimore International Seafarers Center have included a new TV and coffee pot, clean linens and extra blankets, as well as plenty of food and water. In addition, McAllister Towing and the Maryland Pilots Association have been volunteering services to assist the stranded crew.

 

“The captain does not want to abuse the hospitality of Baltimore,” Shipley said. “The Baltimore port partners have stepped in to help and it’s gotten better for the crew.”

 

Shipley concluded, “Right now, the crew is in good spirits and is waiting for orders concerning the repairs. The men are back to work as usual on the vessel. As long as the bank continues to be responsible for the ship and her crew things will be OK. However, if the bank pulls out, we will have a true abandoned crew on our hands.”

 

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