Abandonment of ships and of the crews on board has been highlighted by The Mission to Seafarers as one of the most important issues affecting seafarers. Ships are abandoned by unscrupulous ship owners when they have financial problems or become embroiled in legal disputes. Ships are left in port or at anchorage, as the money has dried up to pay for port costs, unloading fees and wages. Abandonment has a technical definition which is laid out in the Maritime Labour Convention (2006). A ship is technically abandoned once the ship owner has ceased to communicate with a ship for more than 8 weeks. However, during those 8 weeks, when seafarers are stranded, they will also need care and support.
The Mission provides emergency assistance for abandoned seafarers, including financial assistance for food, water and fuel. We work with port authorities, shipping companies, flag states and the International Transport Workers’ Federation to mediate between parties to settle disputes.
Many seafarers have to remain on board abandoned vessels, to ensure that they are paid wages owing to them. Wages that are vital to feeding, clothing and educating their families at home.