Covid-19 fears lead bulk carrier crew to refuse to offload cargo in Bangladesh

The master and the crew of bulk carrier Tomini Destiny (IMO 9718155) were in conflict with the vessel’s owner after the ship’s Indian captain invoked Master’s Authority under the International Safety Management Code and applicable Safety Management System. He refused to offload his cargo at Chittagong Port, Bangladesh, fearing that his ship could be infected with coronavirus through the roughly 60 local stevedores who would normally board the vessel to offload the cargoes.

The Marshall Islands, under whose flag the vessel sails, has been asked by the owners, UAE-based Tomini Shipping, to mediate.

Charity Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has been in direct contact with owner’s representatives, P&I interests, the flag state administration, and passed information to the charterers.

Tomini Shipping said that “the safety, health and wellbeing of our seafarers is our number one priority and our management and technical teams are in constant communication with all our seafarers supporting them and their families as we navigate the complicated challenges the Covid 19 pandemic presents”, Tomini Shipping stated in an email to HRAS. It later added that it had “adhered and complied with every regulation, addressed all the concerns raised by Tomini Destiny and are currently working with the relevant maritime authorities and bodies.”

HRAS said that the case in Bangladesh highlighted a number of issues, including the weighting of commercial interests over crew welfare standards, as set against emerging Covid-19 restrictions during commercial loading and discharge operations.

The charity said that “the case highlights a number of wider issues which may well shape future conduct of business in light of the emerging and the indisputable threat to life of the Covid-19 virus”.

As of Monday afternoon the ship remained at anchor in the Bay of Bengal; the master was reported to have erected razor wire around the ship to ensure no one can board it.

2017-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 36,415 gt Tomini Destiny is owned by Compass Shipping 41 Corp Ltd care of manager Alpina Chartering APS of Naestved, Denmark. ISM manager is Tomini Transports LLC of Dubai, UAE. It is entered with West of England (Claims Team Greece) on behalf of Compass Shipping 41 Corp Ltd.