Sixteen Indian crew members are trapped on-board their empty cargo ship that has been anchored in Rashid Port’s anchorage for almost a year now. Image Credit: Courtesy: Crew Member

Dubai: Sixteen Indian crew members are trapped aboard their empty cargo ship that has been anchored in Rashid Port’s anchorage for almost a year now.

Captain Aninda Sengupta, captain of the Maharishi Devatreya cargo ship that belongs to Varun Shipping, told Gulf News that the ship, which he joined as a captain in November 2013, has been in anchorage since July 2013 when it arrived from New Mangalore Port.

The anchorage is 12 miles into the sea from Port Rashid.

“When I joined, they told me that the ship would move to the Dubai dry docks in December 2013 and start trading normally.” Sengupta said, adding that since then nothing has happened.

The previous captain left the ship in November 2013, when Sengupta joined.

“We are prisoners on the ship as we cannot leave it because we do not have visas to land in the country and we cannot go back to India because the ship’s certificates expired on December 29, 2013 and I am not authorised to move the ship. If I do and something happens I’ll be held responsible,” he said.

Sengupta said they are registered with Lloyd Register, a provider of marine classification services around the world, that helps ensure that internationally recognised safety and environmental standards are maintained at every stage of a ship’s life.

The ship’s certificates would have been renewed, he said, if they had moved to the dry docks.

“The owner has not paid us in seven months and he refuses to do anything. He just sends us food and water every two months so we can survive and every time we talk to him he says next week or next month and nothing happens.” Sengupta explained.

They have been in contact with the Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), who have helped them pressure the company to fix their A/C when it broke down in May.

The ship, which is fitted to transport Liquid Pressurised Gas (LPG), is worth around $20 million (Dh73.46 million), he said. “The owner is not broke, he has money as he has other ships trading in Dubai, I don’t know what the problem is.”

The DMCA was not available for comment on the issue at press time.

He said that the crew’s mental health is deteriorating as some have been on the ship for almost a year. “We want our salaries and we want to go home.” Sengupta said.

The employment contract of some of the crew members, including the captain, has expired and they are still stuck on the ship. “We sent letters to the owner and the DMCA saying that our contracts are over and we want to leave, but no one was able to take any action.”