The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is demanding that Swiss-based Allseas Group SA immediately change the name of ‘Pieter Schelte’ as it honors a convicted Nazi war criminal.
The Pieter Schelte is a giant catamaran-like vessel built to remove decommissioned oil platforms from the North Sea and, at 382 meters long by 124 meters wide, the vessel is considered one of the largest ships in the world. The concept for the ship was first developed by Allseas’ founder Edward Hereema, who first introduced the idea for the ship in 1987. The vessel is named after Edward Hereema’s father, who was a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS, an armed wing of the Nazi Party.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said the vessel’s name was a disgrace and it should not be permitted to operate in UK or European waters.
“For Allseas to name its vessel after a convicted Nazi war criminal is utterly shameful,” Crumlin said in a statement released to the ITF website. “To even countenance honoring a Waffen-SS officer just shows how twisted, arrogant and out-of-touch Allseas management is.”
In January, the Pieter Schelte arrived in Rotterdam after being towed from the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard in South Korea, where the ship has been under construction since 2010. Final assembly will take place at a specially-designed and dredged berth known as Maasvlakte 2 in Alexiahaven.
Crumlin’s criticism of Allseas didn’t stop at the name.
“It is worth noting that Allseas has a long history of seeking to drive down safety standards and working conditions for seafarers the world over,” Crumlin said. “It is this group that the Australian Government is taking its lead from when it comes to driving changes to its offshore visa arrangements.
“The decision from Allseas management to honor a Nazi war criminal should serve as a potent reminder to the world of just what sort of outfit Allseas Group really is.”
ITF general secretary Steve Cotton also commented: “It is almost unthinkable that Allseas would have a vessel honoring a senior Nazi war criminal operating in European waters. It is nothing short of a grave insult. The Pieter Schelte should not be permitted to operate until it changes its name.”
According to a report in The Guardian, the ‘Pieter Schelte’ name is also drawing criticism from leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands.
The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said: “Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.”
So far, Allseas has refrained from comment, although a previous statement from Edward Heerema in the Telegraaf newspaper defended the name and his father, saying the vessel’s name simply acknowledges his father’s great achievements in the oil and gas industry, The Guardian Report said.
Meanwhile, an ITF-affiliated union, UK-based Unite, has set up a petition calling on Shell to rename or remove the Pieter Schelte. Shell UK Ltd has awarded Allseas Group the contract for the removal, transportation and load-in shore of the topsides of three of its Brent platforms situated on the UK continental shelf.
“In the year that the world marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we are appalled that Shell UK Ltd is allowing a vessel named after a Nazi war criminal to be used for its purposes in UK waters,” the petition reads.
“We call upon Shell to act immediately to have this vessel renamed or removed, and for an apology to be made to those for whom this ship’s acceptance by Shell is a grotesque betrayal.”
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