Suez Canal block: Ensure Indian crew not harassed, union tells shipping DG

The All India Seafarers Union, Navi Mumbai has written to the Director General of Shipping expressing concern about the 25 Indian crew still on board ‘Ever Given’, the ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal more than a week ago.

“We have come to know that a detailed investigation is being conducted into what went wrong with the ship,” Abhijeet Sangle, a marine engineer and working president of the union told. “Specifically, we want to know if investigating authorities are complying with Maritime Labour Convention and International Labour Organisation (ILO) guidelines while the crew is on board.”

According to sources, the master (captain) of the ship, has been specifically asked to tell the investigators if Ever Green was involved in any previous mishaps. The most important part of the investigation is analysis of the black box of the ship which is called ‘voyage data recorder’.

The master was asked for access to the VDR and it was provided. Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Osama Rabie said on April 6 that the VDR was being examined.

The 25 Indian crew and master of the giant ship will continue to remain on board the ship ‘for the time being’, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the company which is the technical manager of the ship, has said.

The ship ran aground on March 23, bringing a major artery of international shipping to a standstill for almost a week. It was refloated by a flotilla of tugs on March 29. It then arrived at the Great Bitter Lake which is also part of the SCA for an investigation to find out the causes for the mishap. “All crew members are in good health and remain safely onboard for the time being to assist with ongoing investigations carried out by investigators from the SCA, UK P&I Club and BSM’s technical team,” a spokesperson of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement informed.

Panamanian authorities are also conducting an investigation as the vessel is registered in Panama. “BSM is committed to cooperating with all investigations into the grounding,” the spokesperson said. On being asked for the identities of the master of the ship and the crew, the spokesperson said: “BSM will not be releasing personal information of the crew for privacy reasons.”