DC Edit | In wrong ship at wrong time

There is no greater misfortune than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While such a fate can often turn fatal for those who suffer the worst outcomes, the plight that has befallen many others can be baffling as nothing except bad fortune could have brought them into such situations way beyond their control.

Take the case of the 17 Indian sailors stuck on the MSC Aries after the container ship was boarded by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, some of whom rappelled on ropes from helicopters to take over the vessel that was sailing in the Strait of Hormuz the day before Iran attacked Israel with missiles and drones.

The only fault of the Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian and Estonian sailors on board was that the beneficial owner of the ship is a company which is part of an Israeli billionaire’s business interests in shipping.

India’s foreign minister was in touch with his Iranian counterpart who arranged at once for consular access to the sailors. With some luck, the sailors should be out of the tangle soon enough as they have little to do with who owns the Portuguese flagged ship.

The fate of 21 sailors of the MV Dali, which crashed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key bridge in the US late last month and brought down the structure, is, however, much more uncertain as the matter is bound to end up in a massive legal dispute regarding culpability and claims for damages that may run into billions.

Intrepid seafarers, who take jobs in the maritime transport industry because of lack of opportunities elsewhere while sacrificing much of their personal lives to make a living on the high seas, are facing tricky situations, with Indians said to be suffering more than sailors of other nationalities.

A report by the International Transport Federation has it that at least 400 Indian sailors have been abandoned by their companies and find themselves unable to leave detained ships or have run into tricky situations as the ships they sail are owned by companies that don’t respect their contracts. Their plight is often ascribed to human rights abuse.

The least seafarers’ associations can do is to guide sailors to proper companies for jobs in the industry so that more Indian sailors don’t risk being in the wrong ship at the wrong time. The government could help by giving access to the best information available to migrant workers and sailors.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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