A group of seafarers are stuck in the port of Durban, South Africa after their vessel was detained for non-payment of wages.
The multinational crew working aboard tug/supply ship PSD2 had not been paid for as long as 15 months and were in need of food and fresh water. Two crew members were also in need of immediate medical attention while all of them desperately needed money to send home to their families.
Seafarer’s charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) and chaplains from other organizations in Durban provided assistance to the ship’s crew.
AoS Durban port chaplain Fr Herman Giraldo described the conditions as dire and said the crew appeared hopeless when he first visited to bring them food.
“They were tight-lipped and did not want to speak about their situation. We eventually found that they were owed nine months’ wages; one hadn’t been paid for 15 months. Apparently the company kept delaying payment, promising to pay ‘next week’ but never doing so,” Giraldo said.
“A pest control firm was brought in to fumigate the ship as there was an infestation of rats and cockroaches. We also bought food and water that was much needed for the crew members as well as clothing and toiletries, he added.
“A doctor came on board to treat the two crewmembers that needed medical attention. One had a heart condition but his medication was out-of-date, while the other had burnt his arm and could not be treated as their first-aid kit was almost empty.”
The 11 seafarers are from Syria, Iran, Bangladesh, India and Mozambique. Giraldo said all but the master and two engineers are due for repatriation as soon as their passports are renewed.
Currently arrangements to sell the vessel are being made in order to pay the men, who are not allowed to leave the port. AoS said it will continue to support their welfare and pastoral needs.