Ports Refuse Access to Another Ship Carrying Body of Deceased Captain
Efforts are underway to repatriate the deceased Romanian captain of the cargo ship M/V Vantage Wave after seven weeks and refusal by multiple States to disembark the body. The ship now faces food and water shortages as it awaits orders at an anchorage in China, the group Human Rights at Sea reports.
The Liberian-flagged Vantage Wave departed India for Huangpu New Port in Guangzhou, China, on April 15, 2021. Four days later, on April 19, the Master passed away after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest. While COVID-19 is not believed to be at issue in his death, pandemic prevention measures have complicated the repatriation of his body.
According to Human Rights at Sea, efforts were made to arrange for the disembarkation of the captain in multiple countries including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, but no such permission was granted.
The vessel arrived at China’s Outer Guishan Anchorage on May 7, 2021 and remains waiting for berthing and discharge instructions. Despite diplomatic and commercial negotiations, Guangzhou Municipal Government has not yet approved disembarkation of the body.
Making matters worse, over the last month the crew of the Vantage Wave has been facing a serious shortage of food and water and requests for resupply continue to be rejected even as the situation worsens.
“Owners and crew members on board fully understand the COVID-19 pandemic prevention issues of the local government agency, but note that if the vessel cannot proceed to berth and disembark the body, and in addition to the fact that food and water supplies are running low, these factors are adding significant psychological pressure on the remaining crew,” Human Rights at Sea wrote in an update.
“Human Rights at Sea urgently calls for local port authorities in China to act swiftly to alleviate the vessel and crew’s worsening conditions on board, and to assist in the humanitarian act of enabling swift repatriation of the Master’s body and/or his ashes,” the group said.
The incident involving the Vantage Wave follows a similar situation on board the Italian-registered M/V Ital Libera. In that case, the captain died following a shipboard outbreak of COVID-19 back in mid-April. After being denied access to Asian ports, force majeure was declared and the ship set sail for Italy to repatriate the body. AIS shows the Ital Libera as currently in the Ionian Sea with arrival in Taranto, Italy expected shortly.
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