the welfare of four of its employees being repatriated by ship to their home in
South Asia, a private maritime security company emailed IMO’s Seafarer Crisis
Action Team (SCAT) and a broad cross-section of State, IGO and NGO stakeholders
on 1 March 2021
The email requested support to overcome the operational challenges the
The email sought to draw attention to the
plight of the four men and requested support to overcome the operational
challenges the company faced.
Although the ship
had berthed in a port within their seafarer State, a financial dispute with a
local agent had reached the point whereby it would not sign off the four men
and permit them to disembark. The private maritime security company alleged
that the agent was seeking to exploit the urgency of the situation for
financial gain. Furthermore, it accused the agent of ignoring all attempts made
to contact them, both by the private maritime security company and the ship’s
Three of the four
guards were being repatriated to attend to serious and complicated family
matters that only they could resolve.
The fourth guard was suffering from a severely infected leg wound
The fourth guard was suffering from a severely
infected leg wound that required urgent medical treatment in order to avoid
sepsis. The overriding priority was the welfare of the guards and, as such,
SCAT immediately requested the intervention of an IMO Goodwill Ambassador, who
readily agreed to do whatever he could to assist the four stricken men. SCAT
also notified the relevant authorities and maritime stakeholders and asked them
to take urgent action.
No justification for considering commercial disputes when safety of
life was on the line.
After receiving a
worrying update about ongoing delays and the worsening morale of the four
guards from the private maritime security company on 2 March 2021, SCAT sent an
admonishment to the agent. It stressed, in particular, the need to urgently
sign-off the injured guard so he could be hospitalised, and reiterated that
there could be no justification for considering commercial disputes when safety
of life was on the line.
After this direct
intervention, the agent informed all parties that it had completed the
disembarkation, on compassionate grounds, on the morning of 3 March 2021 and
that the injured man had been transferred to hospital.
This was confirmed by the
private maritime security company and its representative said “I thank you all
for your attention and involvement”.