SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When seafarers who have been abandoned contact the helpline, the SeafarerHelp team can provide support and assistance.
Last July, six crew members from India and Pakistan contacted SeafarerHelp with multiple serious issues.
The Captain and the Chief Officer had absconded from their ship in Dubai, leaving the remaining crew members to fend for themselves. The ship itself was illegal as it did not seem to have an IMO number, and the crew did not have proper contracts. They were also facing many welfare issues, including a lack of provisions and a shortage of fuel oil for the generators. They contacted SeafarerHelp to request help in arranging their repatriation.
The SeafarerHelp team contacted the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) support team, Mission to Seafarers in Dubai, and the embassies of the crew members in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
However, despite the combined efforts from the different authorities, the situation on board was not improving. The crew were not only short of provisions but also running low on fuel and were afraid they would be unable to charge their phone, effectively cutting them off from the world.
In response, the SeafarerHelp team updated Mission to Seafarers in Dubai, stressing the urgency of the situation and requested immediate assistance. In turn, Mission to Seafarers contacted the harbour master at State Port Control and insisted that the immediate welfare issues were resolved. Thanks to these efforts, the crew were finally provided with provisions and fuel.
During the crew's ordeal, the SeafarerHelp team regularly followed up on the crew’s situation and updated their respective embassies and Mission to Seafarers in the UAE. The crew contacted SeafarerHelp when they could not reach anyone else and when the onboard situation became desperate. The SeafarerHelp team constantly reassured the crew members, and reminded them that the helpline is available 24/7 so they could contact the team any time with updates.
Although the situation was very complicated, the UAE authorities finally issued exit visas for the seafarers and all the crew were repatriated. Before their departure, crew members phoned SeafarerHelp, thanking both the team and Mission to Seafarers for the moral support and practical assistance provided throughout their ordeal.
If you are a seafarer and are concerned about being abandoned, you can find advice in the Abandonment section of the SeafarerHelp website. Alternatively, you can speak to a member of the SeafarerHelp team for guidance or support at any time (all our contact details can be found here).