Seafarers to be sent home from ship in Melbourne

Seven Indonesian seafarers on a vessel docked in Port Melbourne are to be helped by a shipping company after the sailors complained of being bullied and harassed by senior officers on the vessel, the MV Sincere.

The seven seafarers signed a letter on Friday June 25th, which was sent to Uniteam Marine, which manages the vessel. The seafarers refused to sail to its next scheduled port of call, which was Eden on the NSW south coast, unless they received a written guarantee that they would be repatriated. One of the signatories alleged that, with 10 years of seafaring experience, he had never faced the level of overwork and abuse he had been subject to on the Sincere.

Cyprus-headquartered Uniteam said the company was working closely with the international seafarers’ union to investigate the workers’ complaints of officer misconduct and crew mistreatment.

“The safety and welfare of our people is always our foremost priority, and we take these allegations very seriously,” the Uniteam spokesman said. “We are committed to ensuring that our crew members work in a safe environment”.

The shipmanager said that “At the request of the crew, Uniteam Marine is arranging for the crew who wish to sign-off to disembark and return home whilst investigations are ongoing. We will cover all costs associated with repatriating the crew.”

The assistant Australian coordinator of the International Transport Workers Federation, Matt Purcell, said in his 25 years in the industry he had not seen crew members so unhappy with their conditions just a month into their contracts, which would typically be for 11 months.

Without the seven crew, Mr Purcell said that the ship would be below the minimum threshold set by its flag state, the Marshall Islands.

That would require the operators to either take on local sailors, which could be done quickly, or from overseas, which could take longer because of travel and coronavirus restrictions.

The Australian Marine Safety Authority said it was aware of the welfare concerns raised these seafarers. “AMSA is working with the crew, the ITF, and the ship owners to investigate and resolve these matters,” he said.