maritime charity Stella Maris is reporting a successful effort at repatriating
seafarers who had found themselves stranded in Italy due to financial problems
on their ships and the ongoing travel restrictions related to COVID-19.
Stuck in Italy for
nearly three months, the charity worked with local organizations to ensure the
seafarers' welfare while the challenges of organizing travel could be resolved.
Vessels detained over allegations of unpaid bills to a fuel supplier
began in July when the Maltese-flagged chemical tanker Gobustan arrived at the
port of Ravenna in northwest Italy. The vessel was ordered detained on July 8
over allegations of unpaid bills to a fuel supplier. Just over a week later a
second vessel, the general cargo vessel Sultan Bey also registered in Malta was
also detained in Ravenna by the Italian authorities over alleged outstanding
Stella Maris provided support to the stranded crew members
A total of 24
seafarers were aboard the two vessels. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions,
they were not permitted off their ships. Further, since the crews were
non-Schengen citizens, their travel was restricted. Working with the Ravenna’s
Seafarers' Welfare Committee, Stella Maris provided support to the stranded crew
members. Working together with local organizations they ensured that the crew
had food and supplies. Stella Maris made a grant of £2,000 (approximately
$2,500) to help with the purchase of supplies for the men while plans were put
in place for the seafarers’ repatriation.
challenges faced in arranging for the crew’s travel was the need to complete
rapid response COVID-19 tests and getting the results within 12 hours instead
of the usual 24 to 48 hours. The charity also helped to obtain an extension
from 48 hours to 72 hours of the COVID-19 free certificate from the Consul of
Azerbaijan for the Azerbaijani crew and getting visa extensions.
“This complex job,
which led to excellent results and brought us at the side of these seafarers
all the time, has been possible thanks to the support of many people involved,”
said Carlo Cordone, President of Ravenna’s Seafarers' Welfare Committee. He
cited the spirit of cooperation between the companies and institutions and the
ability to come together as a team in the face of humanitarian emergencies to
provide a good outcome for the stranded seafarers.
The crew of the
Gobustan was repatriated on October 3 and 4 while the Sultan Bey crew went home
on October 23 and 24.