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Flag Registry, NGO Work Together to Aid Stranded Seafarers

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Image courtesy HRAS

By The Maritime Executive 06-23-2020 08:05:09

The seafarers' charity Human Rights at Sea announced Monday that it is working with Dominica's flag registry to repatriate 22 Indian seafarers aboard the tanker Gulf Sky (ex name Nautic). The vessel is anchored off Port Khor Fakkan in the UAE, and the master has reported that the crew has not been paid in months. 

According to HRAS, the Dominica Maritime Administration initiated proceedings and referred the case to mediation; however, the ship's managers have allegedly failed to resolve the case, pay the salaries of the seafarers and sign them off. The administration said that it is committed to seafarer welfare and will 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," HRAS and the registry said in a joint statement. 

“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," said Elizabeth Mavropoulou, trustee and program manager for Human Rights at Sea. "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.”

“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," said Eric Dawicki, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Registry. "We will not walk away from our responsibilities and we will not push our responsibilities to another administration as in this case."

Last year, the 1998-built Gulf Sky (then sailing under the name Nautic) became entangled in a legal dispute involving American sanctions on Iran. In September 2019, Iranian nationals Amir Dianat, 55, Kamran Lajmiri, 42, allegedly attempted to circumvent U.S. sanctions in order to buy the Nautic on behalf of Iranian petroleum interests - including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. The U.S. Department of Justice brought charges of money laundering against both men, and it filed a civil forfeiture complaint to seize $12 million in funds that were allegedly routed through the U.S. financial system for the transaction. According to the DoJ, it was the largest seizure of IRGC Quds Force-related funds ever made.