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Friday, August 22 2014 @ 03:39 PM EDT

Sailors stuck after vessel runs aground

Panama News By Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter for the Gulf - Dubai: A Panama-registered cargo ship, Tasoulis L, has run aground in the Hamriyah Free Zone and the eight stranded Indian sailors aboard are waiting desperately for their pay before they return home. The ship was carrying 400 tonnes of diesel from Bandar Abbas, Iran, and was waiting outside the Sharjah Port to berth on January 5 when high winds started pushing the ship inland, said the sailors. "We could not drop the anchor because of wind," said the sailors, but as the vessel continued on its course to the beach, the captain was forced to drop anchor. The wind was so strong it broke the massive links of the anchor chain. The sailors were told to discharge the ship's cargo by the owners of the Ajman-based Al Boom shipping company. The sailors want to return home, but the company has yet to pay them two months' back pay. "We were left on board without food and water for a long time," said the sailors who called the coast guard for help. They are still living aboard the ship. (more)

A company spokesman said the sailors will be paid after the ship is broken down and sold as scrap. Sailors said the ship could have been saved if the company had acted fast and pulled it out with tug boats when it ran aground.

A salvage company has offered $600,000 (Dh2.1 million) for the ship. The propeller has sunk into the soft sand.

"There is no way you can save the ship now," said the captain.

The company spokesman alleges that more than 100 tonnes of diesel is missing. "The sailors say there was a hole in the hull, but you know what happens when oil leaks," he said.

The sailors pointed out a diver's report which showed that there were three holes in the hull and the oil had seeped into the sand. "If they want to blame us, we too can say the [operators] of the tankers who took the discharged oil had sold some on the sly."

The sailors' passports are with immigration. They will go home only when all their salaries have been paid by the company.

"We are in a desperate situation. There is nothing to do here. We are also running out of lube oil [to run the onboard generators]," said the sailors.

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