Future of crew aboard stranded coal ship unstable

Reports are mixed on Five Stars Fujian’s future as it remains stranded off Queensland’s Port of Gladstone since July 19.

The crew were stranded after the company chartering the ship declined to pay their wages or restock their food and fuel.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) had detained the coal carrier when inspectors determined there was not enough food for the crew for their 16-day return journey to Hong Kong, and found their wages had not been paid.

At the time of the incident, AMSA had contacted its Hong Kong equivalent, calling on them to restock their supplies as it was not Australia’s responsibility.

However, the Mission to Seafarers and other organisations including the International Transport Workers Federation, eventually delivered 200kg of food by helicopter to the ship.

An AMSA spokesman said there were positive results from their discussions with the owners, with the charterer of the ship committing to restock food supplies, and resolve the issue of wages and refuelling, The Gladstone Observer reports.

“ASMA has been in contact with all parties concerned to ensure that the actions required for the lifting of the detention are clearly understood,” the spokesman said.

Matt Purcell, International Transport Workers Federation assistant-coordinator, doubted the charter that owns the vessel’s commitment, saying they made the same promise last Friday.

The ship’s owner then regressed on their agreement on Sunday, saying they would only pay the port fees.

“We’ve been hearing it for a long time. We need someone to make a statement saying, ‘it’s going to be fixed and it’s going to be done on this date’”, Purcell said.

He called the situation a humanitarian issue, adding that the crew urgently needed to be also brought ashore as supplies would deplete by the end of the week.

He wanted them brought closer to the shore to enable better access for welfare providers.

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