Thirsty stranded sailors rescued, repatriated

DMCA representative Captain Abdullah Al Hayas (first from left), listens to the stranded sailors on board the Samho Dream (Supplied)

Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) has repatriated crew of a non-operational South Korean oil tanker stranded in Dubai waters.

In coordination with Dubai Port Police, and other concerned authorities, DMCA led a team that boarded Samho Dream to conduct safety and health inspections. The Master the Dream asked that all personnel be allowed ashore until the ship had power and water.

The Dream is one of three ship’s owned by the now bankrupt Samho Shipping in Dubai’s anchorages.  It was reported to have been hijacked by Somali pirates in early April. The ship is said to be flagged in the Marshall Islands, owned by a Singaporean firm, operated by a South Korean company, crewed with mariners from South Korea and the Philippines and was carrying cargo owned by American refiners Valero Energy Corp.

Samho Shipping had a rough 2010 and 2011, and commercial daily rates for VLCC’s tumbling to unprecedented lows. The bankruptcy proceedings in South Korea left the crews in desperate condition for several weeks with the last few seeing no potable water and no power for refrigeration of food, cooking, communications, or navigation. The crew of the Dream were only able to communicate to ships anchored nearby through the portable VHF radios on the lifeboats, which have limited range.

Khalid Meftah, Director of Maritime Corporate Development at Dubai Maritime City Authority, said: “Dubai Maritime City Authority coordinated with various government agencies as well as the shipping company’s representative and the flag state representative in implementing an immediate interim safety plan. The crew were already in an adverse condition with a few reporting weight loss, and dizziness. We had to act swiftly for them to be brought ashore and cared for in line with Dubai’s safety and territorial regulations.

“It was critically important to maintain a high level of transparency to keep all parties properly informed and ensure that the entire operation was conducted in line with the standards and regulations implemented by Dubai Government. The successful implementation of the safety plan for the ship and the speedy rescue and repatriation of the crew certainly underlines the full capabilities of DMCA to effectively coordinate with the Dubai Police as well as international authorities and private sector stakeholders,” added Meftah.

DMCA representative, Captain Abdullah Al Hayyas, who led the team that inspected the ship, confirmed the harsh conditions of the sailors. He recommended that immediate medical and other humanitarian assistance must be given to the crew. One of Captain Al Hayyas’s findings was the ship’s Master had not had any contact with the owners for over a week due to the company shutting off access to the internet and satellite phone.

DMCA established communication with the ship owners, who duly repatriated the crew to their respective home countries and are now working closely with DMCA to settle other legal obligations.

DMCA has also coordinated with Dubai Police to safeguard the ships while they are in Dubai’s territory.

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