Pratibha’s entire fleet of oil tankers, crew stranded

The prolonged global recession in shipping industry has started taking its toll on the Indian lines.

The first casualty is the Mumbai-based Pratibha Shipping, whose entire fleet of nine oil tankers have been stranded at ports in India and abroad.

As the company failed to pay wages, seafarers unions have started providing foods and other provisions to the stranded crew, a union official said.

According to the Directorate General of Shipping, the vessels cannot sail as their mandatory certificates have expired.

It is learnt that P&I insurers have cut their cover to Pratibha vessels, making it risky for them to make any voyage.

The situation is so grave that the DG Shipping summoned the company officials and asked them to make arrangements to pay wages due for months and also repatriate their crew stranded at foreign ports.

On Tuesday, at a meeting convened of unions and other stakeholders including company officials, the DG Shipping said all Pratibha vessels will be declared “derelict” as the owners failed to honour their commitment.

Two ships of the company are held up at a drydock in China as the company had failed to pay the repair bills.

“There are 13 trainees (crew) on board these vessels who have been left to fend for themselves.

“The masters have left the vessel, leaving the trainees onboard. We are trying to bring them back as early as possible,” said Abdulgani Sarang, Secretary-General, National Union of Seafarers of India.

Sarang said the company had not bothered to pay salaries or take care of the crew.

Some of the vessels did not have enough fuel, making the life on board difficult.

The DG and unions are taking steps to bring ashore the crew on board the stranded vessels in India.

The master of one of the company’s vessel stranded in Bahrain has reached India and has filed a civil suit against the management.

One of the company’s tankers, Pratibha Cauvari, which was grounded near Chennai last November, following heavy rains is likely to be sold on court directions.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the company representatives reportedly agreed to call a board meeting to decide on sale of vessels to settle wages dues and other financial obligations.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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