Crew remain stranded as dispute rumbles on
PUBLISHED: 17:37 31 May 2018 | UPDATED: 20:02 31 May 2018
The captain of a ship moored in Great Yarmouth remains stranded without pay amid an ongoing legal dispute.
Captain Nikesh Rastogi, 43, from Mumbai, said he was contracted as part of a replacement crew for the offshore supply vessel Malaviya Twenty in February 2017.
The ship’s Indian owners fell into liquidation and the manning agents, Capt Rastogi’s employers, withdrew in January 2018 after new contracts failed to materialise, Capt Rastogi said.
All of his original crew have returned to India, and he remains aboard with three crew members, aged in their twenties, who joined him in September 2017 on six-month contracts. Capt Rastogi said he and his crewmates have not been paid since last year and could not leave.
He said: “If I were to get off the ship with everybody else, the vessel is considered a derelict which means anybody can take it over.”
Paul Keenan, inspector with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said 33 crew members had been on and off the vessel since October 2015 and had not received wages.
The ITF arrested the ship in November 2016 and secured 688,000 US dollars for the asset’s release to manning agents acting for the Indian Bank, ICICI, and the money covered unpaid crew wages.
But Mr Keenan was called back in August 2017 as Capt Rastogi’s crew were owed wages from the manning agents and matters were at a stalemate.
He claimed that arresting the ship and selling it would raise enough money to pay everyone involved and repatriate the remaining four crew to India.
But he said that the Great Yarmouth port, where the ship is moored and which is owed unpaid dues, is using legislation from the 19th century to demand three times the amount of rates.
A notice taped to the side of the vessel gives details of a court distrainment order made under section 43 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847.
Mr Keenan said the ship could sell for £700,000 to £800,000, which he claimed would cover port dues with enough left over to pay the crew’s unpaid wages, the insurance company and their lawyers.
He said: “It’s entirely within the power of Peel Ports to resolve this.”
Peel Ports declined to comment.