News

DMA Publishes Report on Investigation into M/T GULF SKY Disappearance

Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration

Office of Maritime Affairs and Marine Personnel

OFFICIAL PRESS STATEMENT:

The Investigation into the matter of the alleged hijacking of the M/T GULF SKY (IMO No. 9390927) from the Khor Fakkan Anchorage, United Arab Emirates on 05 July 2020 resulted in a year-long investigation that sought to discover the facts and events surrounding the illicit removal of the M/T GULF SKY while under arrest.  The report, published by the Administration on 19 July 2021, reveals a cloud of conspiracy in which facts were very difficult to unearth and verify. 

While the Administration was able to make certain determinations and provide recommendations for future cases, it is unable to determine as to how the vessel disappeared from Khor Fakkan and who the perpetrators and co-conspirators were and believes that a greater multi-national criminal investigation  is required.  The Administration can confirm that the vessel was brought to Bandar Abbas, Iran and illegally reflagged under the Flag of Iran.  As stated in the report, the Administration is of the belief that the incident was facilitated by multiple relevant parties and involved a multinational scheme to bypass sanctions of the Iranian regime by the United States Treasury Department.  The Administration is not able to comment further as to the particulars of the case than what has already been provided in the Report.

Any questions can be directed to:

Technical Department

Tel: + 1 508 992 7170

E-mail: technical@dominica-registry.com        

– End –

The entire report has been released publicly and can be found here: LINK

DMRI CEO: “Seafarers must be designated as key workers”

The Dominica Martime Registry CEO Eric R. Dawicki was recently featured in Tradewinds, highlighting his efforts to get nations to do more to take care of seafarers. 

“There are considerable consequences to maritime trade, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, in cases where a seafarer has been extended well beyond the allowed 11 months to 17 and even 18 months,” he wrote. 

Core to the issue is a lack of designation of seafarers as essential or key personnel which has resulted in the inability to execute crew changes or repatriation of crew serving on vessels globally.

“Without broader commitment, the efforts of flag states to take care of the most important element of global maritime trade — the human element — are rendered moot…During Covid-19, when crew changes have been impacted by the lack of designation of seafarers as key or essential workers and/or other state policies preventing seafarers’ movement through their nations, overly extended seafarers are left with little recourse.”

“Every nation must designate mariners as key workers, and support others in any and all actions to facilitate crew changes and repatriation.”

Read the entire article HERE.

Joint Press Release Update to MT Gulf Sky Crew Case

DESPERATE MT GULF SKY CREW REMAIN NEGLECTED WITHOUT PAY & ACCESS TO CDCs

Press Release.

“Sir, it is very painful experience for me which [has been] never seen before in my life.”

‘The consequences of not being able to return to sea to work and earn a wage are profound on both the crew, and their families, especially during the employment difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic.’
Human Rights at Sea


London, UK / Fairhaven, MA. USA. 14 weeks after their repatriation from Tehran in mid-July following the 5th – 14th July hijack of their vessel while anchored off Port Khor Fakkan Anch, UAE, the 28 Indian seafarers of the MT Gulf Sky remain professionally and financially neglected, while answers do not yet appear to be coming from the Indian Director General of Shipping regarding their internal findings.

The crew’s wages remain unpaid since March 2020 totalling in excess of USD$197,000, while the crew’s Continuous Discharge Certificates (CDCs) are still retained by UAE authorities, pending an ongoing criminal investigation by government prosecutors, as notified to Human Rights at Sea.

As previously reported by Human Rights at Sea and the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration, the complex commercial and geo-political case of the MT Gulf Sky continues to be under investigation at State level as to the background to and circumstances of the hijack of the vessel from UAE waters to offshore Hormuz Island, Iran, in the space of just 24 hours.

Engagement & Actions
Human Rights at Sea and the flag Administration have been jointly engaged with the correspondents for the New Zealand based Maritime Mutual Insurance Association (MMIA) Ltd, though to date, there has been no satisfactory response in terms of finalising payment of outstanding crew wages. The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration has submitted a final demand letter to MMIA, and is considering a criminal complaint.

MMIA have responded and highlighted that the P&I Club is aware that the shipowners, Taif Mining Oman, had been placed under US Office of Foreign Assets (OFAC) sanctions after the vessel was entered with the Club.

Crew employment contracts were originally entered into with the India-based company, Seven Seas Navigation India (Pvt) Ltd, though it remains unclear why the company have themselves not settled outstanding payments to the crew.

Further, the P&I Club has been advised that the vessel managers United Islands Maritime Ventures Private Ltd, based in India, had been involved in paying wages to the crew, though this also appears now to have ceased.

Fines in excess of $5,000,000 USD have now been levied against the owners of the vessel and United Islands Maritime Ventures Private, Ltd., respectively, by the flag administration.

Crew statements
The crew continue to submit their case to all parties who will hear them, including the Director General Shipping India, maritime unions, welfare and civil-society organisations.

To date, their collective voice has been effectively ignored.

DARSHNIK SINGH from Rudrapur, Uttarakhand stated to the Human Rights at Sea: “I and my family are facing financial problem as I have not received my wages from company Seven Seas Navigation due to which I am not able to fulfil my family needs.”

Another crew member, 3rd Engineer TANDEL SUJEETKUMAR stated: “Sir it is very painful experience for me which [has been] never seen before in my life.”

“We were arrested by Iranian hijacker from 5 July to 14 July those 10 days experience is very horrible for us because they kept us in one mesh room, we 28 people live together in that small room. That is fine ok we are released anyhow, God bless. But now we are facing very worst situation because our documents are seized by UAE government we didn’t get salary and now without documents we can’t join ship now we are in very horrible situation all authorities doesn’t help us…”

Deck cadet, BASKAR RAJA GOPAL said: “My CDC still with UAE authorities. Sir without my CDC I can’t able to join another vessel, my training period also incomplete and my family also suffering financially during this COVID-19, my family depends on me only Sir.”

Consequences
The consequences of not being able to return to sea to work and earn a wage are profound on both the crew, and their families, especially during the employment difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lack of income drains meagre personal savings resulting in crew borrowing to survive and increasing levels of debt which, if left unchecked, may well lead to indentured servitude and exploitation. This is plainly wrong and unacceptable.

Comments
Human Rights at Sea and the flag State administration remain co-joined and resolute in their efforts, alongside other stakeholders, to secure payment of the significant outstanding wages and to ensure the crew CDC’s are returned without delay.

Eric R. Dawicki, President and CEO stated, ”The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration’s Office of Maritime Affairs and Marine Personnel has been working diligently with both the United Arab Emirates Directorate of Maritime Transport Sector and The Federal Transport Authority and the Directorate General of Shipping in India to conclude the facts as we know them. Once the Directorate General of Shipping in India submits its finding to the Tri-lateral Investigation Team Headed up by the Commonwealth of Dominica, we shall issue a statement of facts and a plan for legal actions against the perpetrators of one of the most brazen crimes on the high seas in the 21st Century. One way or another – justice shall be served!”

David Hammond, CEO, Human Rights at Sea said, “It is undeniably frustrating to continually fail to be able to provide the crew with any credible news relating to when their outstanding wages will be paid, and when their CDCs will be returned. These fundamental issues affecting livelihoods can no longer be kicked down the road. Seafarers and their families are suffering unnecessarily.”

ENDS.


Contact

David Hammond Esq. CEO
david.hammond@humanrightsatsea.org
Tel: +44 7387 778977

Eric R. Dawicki President & CEO
edawicki@dominica-registry.com
Tel: +1-508-992-7170
Fax:+1-508-992-7120
Emergency 24-Hour Contact: +1-508-287-4536

 

 

Updated COVID-19 Circulars

The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration has recently updated its guidelines, information, and Marine Safety Circulars (MSC) relating to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Administration urges all owners, operators, masters and officers of merchant ships, and recognized organizations to review the Administration’s COVID-19 webpage HERE.

For any clarifications on COVID-19 guidelines, please contact the Administration.

Joint Press Statement of Dominica Flag Administration and Human Rights at Sea on MT GULF SKY

Press Release.

London. UK / Fairhaven/MA. USA.  Following the rapidly emerging case of the alleged kidnap of 28 Indian seafarers of the MT Gulf Sky the evening of 5 July 2020 by unknown persons and their forced transfer to Iranian waters, resulting, at the time of writing, in 26 seafarers being repatriated to India and two remaining in Tehran, awaiting documentary clearance, the Dominica Maritime Flag Administration and Human Rights at Sea would like to highlight the following short points.

Both organisations are very pleased that all Indian seafarers are safe and well and that their ordeal is now over, noting that it is understood that two seafarers are awaiting on repatriation from Iran.

The 28-man crew will be the ultimate source of the facts of the incident and debriefing is still ongoing by the relevant agencies. Meantime, time, space and support must be given to the crew to settle back into daily life with their friends and families after their ordeal.

Both organisations reiterate their absolute support for seafarers and their dependents at all times, especially those who ask for assistance and support during times of need. That support will continue alongside all other collaborative partners and stakeholders involved in such incidents.

Finally, liaison with State authorities, welfare organisations and all other pertinent parties is still ongoing.

President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Dominica International Ship Registry, Eric R. Dawicki states:

“Our initial concern was regarding the health and welfare of the crew, however it is abundantly troubling that the crew is claiming that they were either coerced or forced to pick up anchor and get underway knowingly engaging in an act of piracy.  Piracy, in any form cannot be tolerated and we believe that the crew will deliver the key from which this mystery is unlocked.”

ENDS.

Dominica Maritime Flag Administration joins HRAS Arbitration Webinar on 9 July 2020

Press Release.

‘Arbitration as a Means of Effective Remedy for Human Rights Abuses at Sea’

London. UK. The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime flag Administration will be joining the 9 July 2020 webinar hosted by Human Rights at Sea and the international law firm, Shearman & Sterling LLP for the first public discussion and review of the joint project to address the concept of ‘Arbitration as a Means of Effective Remedy for Human Rights Abuses at Sea‘ following the issuing of the White Paper on 24 March 2020 focusing on a victim-led approach to the issue.

President and CEO, Captain Eric R. Dawicki, will attend online for the Panel discussing ‘Exploring how arbitration could be used to address human rights issues’ as the first flag State to become involved in the project work seeking to develop a new pathway to effective remedies for victims.

Captain Dawicki commented: ““During these opaque times, the rule of law must move forward, now more than ever, to ensure mariner and seafarer rights are being upheld and thoroughly disseminated. Arbitration can be the very bridge between parties that ensure human rights at sea becomes the very baseline from which these rights are realized and more importantly become the norm from which all maritime workers can go to work, feel safe and feel as though they are part of the all important team facilitating maritime commerce. I, for one, will do what I can to make arbitration part of the norm for resolution of mariner and seafarer rights being ensured.”

Yas Banifatemi, partner and Co-Head of the International Arbitration practice, said: “The performance of ship registries can vary significantly when it comes to human rights issues. The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration stands in a unique position in that it is taking active steps to distinguish itself as a registry that promotes the rule of law, including with respect to human rights at sea. By pledging its support to the development of an arbitration-based system of redress for human rights abuses in the maritime environment, the Administration is paving the way for other registries. Our hope is that more and more flag States will come to realize that arbitration can be a powerful tool to help ensure that vessels flying their flag adhere to key international standards, and that human rights for all seafarers are respected.

CEO, Human Rights at Sea, David Hammond commented: “We are delighted to have the keen interest of a highly-reputable flag Administration attending this event and assisting the stakeholders with the project development. This follows on from the announcement of our partnership in June to aim to deliver justice for the stranded seafarers of the MV GULF SKY reflecting our charitable objectives to support seafarers.”

ENDS.

Human Rights at Sea and the Dominica Maritime Administration join forces for the crew of MV Gulf Sky

Press Release.

London. UK.  Human Rights at Sea is pleased to announce that it has partnered with the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration to work towards resolving the ongoing case of the MV Gulf Sky, registered under the Dominica Registry, anchored off Port Khor Fakkan Anch, UAE with 22 Indian seafarers on board.

The Case of the MV Gulf Sky was highlighted first by Human Rights at Sea in May when the charity produced a Case Study reporting on the situation on board on the MV Gulf Sky (IMO 150377) flying the flag of the Commonwealth of Dominica .

The Master, who on behalf of the crew, appealed to Human Rights at Sea in May 2020 raised serious concerns about the welfare of the seafarers and the financial hardships that they are subject to given the three months delay in their wages, as well as their living conditions onboard including periodic re-supply of essential victuals.The crew has been onboard the vessel since October 2019 with some joining in subsequent months.

The Dominica Maritime Administration initiated the necessary proceedings and referred the case to mediation but the managers have failed to resolve the case, pay the salaries of the seafarers and sign them off.

The Dominica Maritime Administration which is committed to the welfare of seafarers and which has the seafarers as its core value has committed to take further action. The flag State and Human Rights at Sea will work as a collective to apply pressure to resolve the case and stand by the seafarers during these difficult times.

Comments

Elizabeth Mavropoulou, Trustee and Programme Manager of Human Rights at Sea commented:

“This is the first partnership of Human Rights at Sea with a flag State Registry to help seafarers get their wages and repatriate. The  Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration has actively sought the engagement of Human Rights at Sea to resolve the case. This is an exemplary example of proactivity and commitment to the human rights of the seafarers coming from flag State Registry. We are determined to help resolve the case and we hope that this is only the first of the projects with the Dominica Maritime Administration.”

Eric Dawicki, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Registry commented:

“The Dominica Maritime Administration Office of Maritime Affairs and Marine Personnel will, shall, and always put seafarer rights first and foremost as the number one tenet of facilitating commerce.  We will remain steadfast and shall use every legislative and regulatory tool to ensure that the mariners and seafarers of the MV Gulf Sky are repatriated and are made whole.  This is another example of “flag hopping”, a way to evade punitive action and responsible adherence to appropriate international instruments.  We will not walk away from our responsibilities and we will not push our responsibilities to another Administration as in this case. This Administration’s Office of Maritime Affairs and Marine Personnel is proud and pleased to be working with Human Rights at Sea to bring urgent attention to our global partners and allies to help us resolve this case and any other case that puts the lives and welfare of mariners and seafarers at risk.”

 ENDS.