At the end of April 2008 I covered the story of a Cambodian registered ship, the m.v. Defender, which was under arrest in the Port of Cork over the non-payment of crew's wages and general conditions onboard ship. It is deeply disappointing that another crew onboard the same ship is now in trouble due to the same type of problem.
The problem with "Flags of Convenience" has been highlighted on this blog on several occasions and I commend the actions of the International Transport Federation and their local officer Ken Fleming for prompt action in this case. The Defender is owned by a Latvian company named Forestry Shipping. The ship was launched in 1969 and has a gross tonnage of 1,600 tonnes.
The ship's crew have stated that they have not been paid for several months and that there is not enough food onboard for their return journey to Ukraine. Between them, nine crew members are owned almost €80,000. This is almost exactly the same circumstance that faced another crew less than 12 months ago when the High Court ordered the arrest of the vessel.
There is now a real fear that the company may simply abandon this old vessel and its crew in Cork. How is this possible?
The Irish government is on record as condemning the use of Flags of Convenience vessels but has so far failed to take action to deal with them. It is now high time for the use of Flags of Convenience to be outlawed on at least an EU and preferrably on a worldwide basis.
UPDATE 28/03/09 - the Defender (what an unfortunate name for a ship with a history like this) is still laid up at John Horgan Quay in Cork city. It appears most of the crew have gone home and there's little sign of life apart from a vehicle belonging to a security company parked on the quay from time to time. There has been silence on the matter from most local politicians and most of the media seems to have lost interest.