CHENNAI: The fate of a Panamanian flagship vessel, M V Karaagac, a Turkish owned bulk carrier currently docked at the Chennai Port, hangs in the balance after the crew approached the Marine Mercantile Department here complaining that the ship was unsafe and that the crew had not been paid wages for months.
The Marine Mercantile Department is a subordinate office of the Ministry of Shipping and Transport (Directorate General of Shipping). It administers the enforcement of various Merchant Shipping Laws and Rules, which include ascertaining of the sea-worthiness of Indian as well as foreign ships by means of surveys and inspections. The ship, which is currently loading steel coils from Chennai Port arrived here on Tuesday. Its final destination is Turkey.
The ship was inspected by Sreekumar, an inspector of International Transport Workers Federation, an international trade union, along with Manoj Das, Chaplain of Sailors Society, after the ITF’s London office forwarded a complaint to the Chennai office.
On Thursday, Sreekumar submitted a letter signed by nine of the 21 crew members to the principal officer of the Marine Mercantile Department. In the letter, the crew had alleged that since they embarked on the vessel in March, they had not been paid any salary.
“The ballast system, water ingress system, fire alarm, navigational equipment and rescue boat are out of order,” they claimed. As per the provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, the owners have to ensure the ship is safe and the crew welfare taken care of.
“Unfortunately there is a clear violation of the MLC regulations. The ship and crew safety are paramount and the owner has to ensure the ship is safe while she is sailing in the high seas. The crew members’ precious lives cannot be put to risk,” says Sreekumar.
Speaking to Express, Chief Officer of the ship Igor Kozakou, an Ukranian national, alleged that the ship was unsafe and some of the crew had suffered injuries.
When Express contacted MMD officials, they said after they get the report, they would inspect the ship. “During inspection if we find any irregularities or safety issues, we will initiate action,” the official said. The ship could be detained if it is unsafe.