Cargo ship at anchor off Putian Port impounded after 9 months

Updated: 19 Jul 2012
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A Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship has been detained by order of Xiamen Maritime Court because the crew refuses to bring the ship to Fujian province's Putian Port and unload its iron ore, which belongs to a Chinese company, the court told China Daily on Tuesday.

The vessel, Ledor, with an Albanian captain and 16 Syrian crew, has been 10 nautical miles (18.5 km) off the port for more than nine months.

Carrying 22,000 tons of iron ore, the freighter was en route from India to Yangzijiang Port in Jiangsu province when it anchored off the port while seeking shelter in bad weather.

According to the presiding judge of the court, surnamed Chen, the ship owner, an Albanian, abandoned the vessel in October because he cannot pay for the vessel's repairs.

The abandoned, unpaid crew then refused the offloading request by the cargo owner, a subsidiary of the Wuhan Iron and Steel Corp, and said they won't dock the ship unless they get their money, she said.

The court found that as of June 30, the crew is owed $435,000.

As the court has the jurisdiction over the region, it ordered the detention of the ship on July 5 after the Putian maritime affairs bureau could not persuade the crew to cooperate.

"The crew is still living on board, and the members hope the cargo owner could pay at least part of their living expenses," Chen said, adding the court is helping negotiate with the company to offer a bid for those sailors to persuade them to bring the ship to port.

"The case is very difficult to handle as it involves a missing ship owner and crew from a third country, whose whole earnings could hardly be paid back by anybody right now," Chen said.

"But the court will protect the interests of both the Chinese company and the foreign crew, and will solve the case in accordance with the pertinent law as soon as possible," Chen said. 
SOURCE: chinadaily
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