Chief mate stranded on abandoned freighter off Suez

Mohammad Aisha, who signed on as first officer of general cargo ship MV Aman (IMO 9215517) in mid-2017, is still on the ship. That July, the vessel was detained at an anchorage in Suez, and it has remained there for nearly all that time. Most of the crew went home in 2019, leaving Aisha to serve alone as her master, engineer, cook and deckhand.

According to UK-based NGO the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), Aisha is legally tied to the vessel under a local court order that designated him as the ship’s “legal guard”.

Because of that he is required to stay on board nearly all of the tim, until the abandoned vessel sells at auction.  “In March of last year, the ship ran aground due to rough weather,” Aisha told the ITF in December 2020. “Since then, no-one is providing me with fresh water, provisions or diesel oil. I have had to swim to shore every few days to get food and water and to charge my phone. These days, getting to shore is endangering my life because of the cold and my bad health. I almost drowned several times.”

ITF has said that the Egyptian authorities have viable options for repatriating Aisha to his native Syria. The chief mate has been alone for more than 15 months and was reportedly showing signs of malnourishment, ill health and psychological deterioration. “I’ve requested repatriation many times,” Aisha told the ITF. “But the port authorities are refusing to allow me to leave.”

Apparently the ITF offered to pay for his flight home and his medical treatment, but local officials had denied Aisha permission to leave and have been holding his passport, which is now expired. The union has called on the Bahraini flag state – the vessel’s registry – to intervene in the case.

The ITF is also attempting to win freedom for the captain of the freighter Kenan Mete (IMO 8701935), where the master has been designated the vessel’s “legal guard” and has been forbidden to leave Egypt until the vessel’s case is resolved or another guardian is appointed (IMN, March 23rd 2021). In this case Captain Kara has been permitted to go to a nearby hotel, which he cannot leave.

1999-built, Bahrain-flagged, 4,028 gt Aman is owned and managed by Tylos Shipping & Marine Services of Manama, Bahrain.

1990-built, Panama-flagged, 8,897 gt Kenan Mete is owned by Blodwen Marine SA care of manager RoyalMar Shipping & Ship Management Co Ltd of Istanbul, Turkey.