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MPA sets record straight on ‘inaccurate claim’ by ITF on “Yangtze Harmony” crew

24 Apr 2023

The Maritime and Port Authority on Friday (21 April) released a statement in response to a International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) media release on the plight of crew on board livestock carrier “Yangtze Harmony”: 

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has made an inaccurate claim that “Singapore may have contravened the MLC” in its release “ITF secures freedom for 13 abandoned Filipino seafarers stuck in Singapore for 5 months; $1m in backpay won for crews” dated 17 Apr 2023.

The Liberia-flagged livestock carrier, YANGTZE HARMONY, has been under arrest in Singapore as executed by the Sheriff’s Office, Supreme Court since 25 October 2022 pursuant to an application by Posh Projects Pte Ltd to secure its claim for unpaid sums due and owing under a towage contract for the towage of the vessel from Brisbane, Australia to Singapore. The Supreme Court granted a judicial sale of the vessel on 18 January 2023 and the bidding and sale process is underway.

Under Standard A.2.5.1 – Repatriation of the Maritime Labour Convention1, the vessel’s Flag State, which in this case is Liberia, is obliged to make arrangements to repatriate seafarers who are entitled to repatriation, should the shipowner fail to make such arrangements or meet the cost of repatriation. In the event the Flag State fails to repatriate the seafarers, either the Port State, which is the country from which the seafarers are to be repatriated, or the seafarers’ home State(s), may repatriate the seafarers and recover the cost of repatriation from the Flag State. Liberia has been fulfilling its role and obligations as the Flag State for YANGTZE HARMONY throughout this period when the vessel is under arrest, and hence, there was no requirement by Singapore as Port State to assume the obligations to repatriate the crew.

Notwithstanding, as the Port State, MPA kept in close contact throughout this period with Liberia, the Sheriff’s Office and its appointed agent to monitor and facilitate the repatriation plan and ensured that the seafarers’ well-being was taken care of while they were onboard the vessel, the granting of shore leave and the access to medical facilities if required.

There were no restrictions by Sheriff’s Office on the repatriation and the grant of shore leave for all the thirteen seafarers onboard. During this period, three seafarers were granted leave by the Sheriff’s Office to seek medical attention on shore on 16 December 2022. In January 2023, three seafarers were repatriated. On 27 February 2023, the Sheriff’s Office obtained from the Liberian Ship Registry’s dispensation for the minimum manning of the vessel to be reduced from thirteen to nine crew members, which would allow four more seafarers to be repatriated. However, MPA understands the Master and all remaining crew decided then to stay onboard the vessel until the settlement of the outstanding wages owed to them.

In April 2023, all thirteen seafarers who remained onboard had received their outstanding wages for the period from November 2022 to April 2023. The outstanding wages were paid by YANGTZE HARMONY’s Protection & Indemnity(P&I) Insurance club under the financial security insurance in place in respect of the vessel and the arresting party. The remaining outstanding wages in excess of that which the vessel’s P&I Club is legally required to cover were paid by the arresting party and will be recovered by the arresting party from the proceeds of the judicial sale of the vessel. All thirteen seafarers have since been repatriated.

As the Port State, Singapore worked closely with the Flag State and the ship agents to ensure that the seafarers were repatriated and were given the necessary support.

Related: Singapore: Glander International Bunkering arrests “Yangtze Harmony” over partially paid bunker fuel invoice
Related: “Yangtze Harmony” bunker claims pile up with Peninsula Petroleum seeking repayment of USD 206,000 debt


Photo credit: Marine Traffic / Sergei Skriabin
Published: 24 April, 2023

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