HRAS: Bulker Crew Threatened for Voicing COVID-19 Exposure Fears

The crew members of a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier have raised safety concerns related to the continued offloading operations at Chittagong, Bangladesh.

According to a formal letter, addressed to Tomini Transports LLC and Western Bulk Carriers, the crew of MV Tomini Destiny asked to be provided with adequate protective gear and for the ability of external persons to come on board the ship during discharging operations to be limited.

The letter was also sent to a UK-based charity Human Rights at Sea (HRAS).

The seafarers believe there is an overall lack of coronavirus screening of stevedores which could lead to potential transmission of the coronavirus to the crew and across the supply chain.

However, it appears that their fears failed to secure support from the management. Namely, the crew claims to have received threats from the owner of the ship that their employment would be terminated if they fail to allow stevedores onboard.

 “We, the full complement of the Tomini Destiny are under enormous pressure, fatigue and mental stress due to owners and charterers insisting to perform shipboard operations under duress,” HRAS cited the master as saying in the letter.

The seafarers have also taken the issue to the flag State administration, the Indian Government and Indian Unions, HRAS added.

Seafarers have been at the front lines of maintaining the trade flowing during the pandemic.

They are facing numerous challenges in performing their activities including longer duration of their employments on vessels amid bans on crew-changes and restriction of travel.