It used to be that a seafarer would only abandon ship under the most dire circumstances. But more and more, it is the seafarer who is finding himself abandoned, stranded and forgotten in foreign ports all over the world. It is a growing problem as ILO Television explains:
The port of Amsterdam. For most ships, it is a point of departure, but for others, it is the end of the line.
There are several ships under arrest here for major international safety violations. One has been here for months, tied up to port for repairs and tied down in negotiations over back wages.
Capt. of the A. Hazer
He says he's going....
Ruud Touwen, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF)
...All of a sudden this guy came acting on behalf of the owners and of course he took the responsibility to try to find the solution to get more people with him down to Istanbul and to pay them off not in accordance with the contract...he's leaving because his mission became a Mission Impossible.
Shipowners unable or unwilling to come up with money to repair a rusting investment, may decide to wash his hands of the whole situation. They may abandon the crew and ship. The Joint Maritime Commission of the International Labour Organization has identified abandonment of ships and crews as one of the worst problems facing the shipping industry. Jean Yves Legouas explains.
Jean-Yves Legouas, Maritime expert, ILO
Abandonment is a growing problem, there is no question about it. Why? It is probably because bad ship owners have discovered that more and more they can simply sever all links with a vessel which is in a difficult financial position because that's the beginning of abandonment.
The local union representative, Ruud Touwen points out six pages of violations to be set right. Some of the crew haven't been paid for nearly a year. Facilities on board the ship, bad to begin with, are getting worse. Food supplies are nearly exhausted. Abandoned crews depend on charity and local unions to survive. The families they support back home may have no one to depend on.
We are spending every day for nothing. We spending more time, more time. This is for company and for us too. For us it is a very hard situation.
Abandonment is a problem in uncharted waters. The ILO, with other int'l agencies, is working on a framework for legislation to remedy this hopeless situation since there are currently no laws that fully address abandonment.
The crew has seen many ships leave this port. For now they can only wonder if their turn will come.