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Ship detained because of concerns for crew’s safety and welfare

5th March 2009

A Latvian based freighter the mv Defender has been detained in Cork by Port State Control because of inadequate watch keeping and insufficient food supplies for the return trip to Riga. The ship’s log showed adequate watches were not being kept, posing a threat to the crew and other vessels. Nor were there funds to buy provisions or other necessities, although there was a stock of dog food on board.

Ms Fiona Corcoran of the Greater Chernobyl Cause is organising an emergency food collection for the crew of two Russians and seven Ukrainians. 

The crew are owed $97,000 in arrears of pay. This is the second time within twelve months that the Defender has been detained in Cork for serious breaches of employment, health and safety regulations.

International Transport Federation inspector Ken Fleming of SIPTU praised Port State Control and the Department of Transport for their prompt action. He said that the owners of the vessel had failed to respond to calls for help or for payment of outstanding wages. “They seem to have no interest whatsoever in the wellbeing of the crew”, he added.

When the vessel was detained in Cork last April over $100,000 was owed to the crew in arrears of pay and SIPTU dockers had refused to unload the vessel in solidarity with the men on board. The ship arrived in Cork again yesterday with a fresh crew and another consignment of timber.

Mr Fleming said last night that, “Once more the local people in Cork are demonstrating their generosity and solidarity with those less well off and I would particularly like to thank Fiona Corcoran of The Greater Chernobyl Cause charity who is organising the collection of food for the crew of two Russians and seven Ukrainians”.

Ms Corcoran described conditions on board the Defender as “an affront to humanity”. She said one crew member she met on board was smoking tea in his pipe because he had no tobacco or the means to buy any. However the men were afraid to leave the vessel in case they were left stranded in Ireland as well as penniless.

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