Abandoned At Sea – The Story Of Crews Cast Aside Without Pay, Food, Or Fuel

Source: The Guardian/Karen McVeigh

Photo: Nate Cheney/Unsplash

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When Captain Ayyappan Swaminathan set off from his home in Kumbakonam, southern India, in January 2017, to work on a ship in the Persian Gulf, he told his four-year-old daughter, Aniha: “Don’t worry, I’ll be back shortly.”

But the merchant seaman’s hope of returning home soon with good money for his family turned into a nightmare. His cargo ship, the MV Azraqmoiah, became a floating prison from which he and his 10-man crew could not escape without losing their claim to thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

When Swaminathan’s eight-month contract to ship building materials between Iraq and the United Arab Emirates expired in October 2017, he and his mostly Indian crew were abandoned, thousands of miles from home, by the vessel’s owners, Elite Way Marine Services. They have been stranded, six nautical miles off Ajman port, with no supplies, no wages, no fuel and scant means of communication, for 18 months.

Forced to continue with their work onboard to keep the ship safe, they live on a meagre diet of rice and dahl provided by charities and the Indian consulate. In all, they are owed $260,600 (£199,300) in wages, they say, as well as their airfare home.

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Photo: Nate Cheney/Unsplash

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