For nine long months, the crew of the Malta-flagged asphalt tanker NewLead Granadino remained stranded aboard the vessel. But thanks to the efforts of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), as well as the SIU and others, those men have finally headed home.
As previously reported, the vessel, owned by NewLead, arrived in the Port of Baltimore on Sept. 20, 2016, after experiencing engine problems while headed to the United States. The primary problem was discovered to be a broken crankshaft, with repairs estimated at more than $1 million. Due to the numerous mechanical issues, including a boiler which remained broken during the winter months, the vessel was detained by the U.S. Coast Guard until repairs could be made.
The 18 men initially on board had been stranded at sea for days, had not been paid in four months and were running low on provisions. Along with the SIU hall in Baltimore, ITF Inspector Barbara Shipley worked closely with the mariners, and made sure the crew received regular shipments of supplies – as well as fought for their back pay. InterOrient, the manning agent for the crew, paid for provisions before Raven Ship Management (RSM) was hired to operate the vessel. RSM provided regular provisions for the crew, and began to pay the men regularly.
The crew received donations from local Baltimore businesses several times – everything from food and water to clean clothes, blankets and other cold-weather gear. The men were unable to come ashore because they lacked proper documentation, but the SIU, ITF and the Baltimore International Seafarers Center (BISC) coordinated deliveries to the vessel on local, privately owned boats.
Shipley said, “This crew has been amazing. The conditions they’ve lived with and tolerated are just unbelievable. They’ve been so happy and so positive and it’s just a great day coming. The generosity of the people of Baltimore has been overwhelming and I’m very thankful for everyone that’s stepped up and helped out.”
SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel, who also serves as the ITF Seafarers’ Section chair, commented that this was another example of the vital, practical work carried out by the federation’s inspectors to help seafarers in distress.
Over time, the ship’s manning level was reduced: six men were repatriated in November, with another six returned home in January. As NewLead was unable to pay for the repairs, on May 31 the vessel was sold to Eurotankers Inc. and the remaining six crew members were sent home to the Philippines. Once repairs are completed, the vessel will set sail as the Asphalt Trader with a new crew.
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