By Jite Eriabie
An Indian captain was left to his own devices for a year on board an oil tanker Hamed 2, which was abandoned by its owner in the waters of the United Arab Emirates.
Nirmal Singh Rawat, 27, revealed in an interview with the Gulf News, that he was left without basic provisions and even drinking water on a ship anchored five nautical miles away from the shore on the border of Sharjah and Ajman. The ship didn’t even have electricity as its engines and generator had broken down.
“I used to eat once in three days…and once I had to stay for 50 hours without even drinking water in the peak of the summer,” Rawat said.
He joined the ship in November 2016 and was promised a salary of USD 2,000. However, shortly after he discovered that the remaining eight crew members of the ship were owed salaries for over 17 months and that he would not be paid.
As revealed by Rawat, the remaining crew members agreed to sign off and go back home without receiving their salaries. Nevertheless, he said that, as a captain, he couldn’t have abandoned the ship just like that without getting what he was owed.
The Indian captain was finally repatriated with the help of an Indian social worker Girish Pant who appealed to the Indian Consulate and UAE Federal Transport Authority (FTA). Rawat’s ordeal finally came to an end on Thursday as he flew home to Dehradun in Uttarakhan state.
The FTA is working on curbing the crew abandonment practices in its waters that have seen over 200 Indian sailors abandoned in just last six months.
To that end, FTA officials announced that they would push for the UAE to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.
The move comes on the heels of an October ban imposed on the ships of India-based LPG shipowning company Varun, a repeat offender when it comes to seafarer abandonment cases in UAE ports and waters.
Over the last five years, 12 to 19 crew abandonment incidents were reported annually and 1,013 seafarers were involved in total, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Furthermore, figures from this year, as of July 31, show that 28 abandonment cases were reported, involving 339 seafarers.
However, HRAS claims that this is not true as many cases being tackled by the charity have not been included in the database.
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