16 stranded Indian sailors return home after six months

Dubai: On India’s 71st Independence Day, 16 Indian sailors are reuniting with their families after flying back home on Tuesday night.

The sailors had been stranded at the Fujairah Port for over six months because their parent company failed to bail them out after undergoing financial liquidation. Thanks to the efforts of the Indian Consulate which worked relentlessly with UAE’s Federal Transport Authority (FTA) to secure the release of the crew, the sailors were expected to fly home on Indian national carrier, Air India, on Tuesday.


Their ship Maharishi Vamdeva, a merchant vessel, was detained by the Fujairah Port authorities in February 2018 for non-payment of dues by the parent Indian ship owners Varun Global which has allegedly gone bankrupt.

Speaking to Gulf News, Captain Krishna Kumar, who was in charge of the vessel, expressed his gratitude to the UAE government and the Indian Consulate: “Initially we were 19 crew members but three were released earlier on account of ill health. We are relieved to be flying home tonight and are grateful to the Indian Consulate for having paid for our tickets. However, no one has received a single penny as salary and each one is owed roughly Rs10 million in pending dues. We have no alternative but to seek legal recourse for recovering our dues,” said the captain on Tuesday.

For six months, the crew lived on limited food and water supplies and had not been paid any salary.

The Indian Consulate’s community welfare committee (seafarers and overstay) worked hard liaising with the Director General of Shipping in India, the Fujairah Port authorities and the FTA to secure the release of the crew.

Sumathi Vasudev, acting Counsel-General at the Indian Consulate, thanked the UAE authorities and the Director General of Shipping in India for their help.

“I am grateful to these agencies that helped us repatriate the crew of Maharishi Vamdev who had been suffering ill health and depression for the last six months. The consulate has arranged for their air tickets and we are relieved that they have finally got safe passage back home.”

Girish Pant, a senior member of the community welfare committee, said that experiences like these were a grim reminder to others seeking assignments or jobs abroad.

“It is important that all seafarers seeking employment in merchant vessels like these have all their documentation completed before sailing. They must register though the E-migrate system and the DG Shipping’s RPSL (Recruitment and Placement Services Licence) agents so that their rights are protected and they can avoid exploitation of this kind. A lot of seafarers lately have been facing situations like this and it is important to educate them, get them to apply through proper channels and also check the credentials of the parent company the ship is registered under before setting sail. This will avoid such crisis in the future,” Pant said.

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