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Seafarer Commits Suicide Aboard Asphalt Tanker off UAE

sea princess
Sea Princess (file image courtesy Global Tankers Pvt)

Published Jan 31, 2021 3:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

On January 28, a seafarer who had spent 13 months aboard the asphalt tanker Sea Princess committed suicide, according to charity Human Rights at Sea (HRAS). 

The Indian-owned tanker had recently been sold to a scrapyard in Alang and was under way in the Gulf of Oman, HRAS reported. When the crewmember could not be located, the master raised the general alarm and called for a full search of the vessel. The victim was found hanging in the boiler room. 

HRAS learned of the casualty on January 30 when a crewmember reported that access to UAE port state services had not been made available to the vessel. The Sea Princess' owner informed the charity that the officials in Khor Fakkan had refused the vessel access to port and would not allow the deceased's body to be offloaded for repatriation. 

After a petition from the Indian Consulate General in Dubai, officials in Khor Fakkan agreed to dispatch a public prosecutor to attend the ship on Sunday. The remains of the deceased will be prepared for repatriation.

The Sea Princess' shipmanager informed UAE outlet The National that the deceased had just had lunch with his shipmates and had "appeared to be in a good mood" in the hours before his passing. Given the vessel's itinerary, he would have been back in India in less than a week's time. The cause of the suicide remains under investigation. 

The victim's family told HRAS that they had had no contact from the vessel's manning agency and had been unable to reach its office. 

“The phone is continually switched off and till now we are unable to reach the manning company . . .They have not called me or sent any email or sent any written information about the death of my son," the father of the deceased wrote. “I want a thorough investigation to be done. Please investigate into his untimely death, and take action against those persons responsible for my son’s death. My son is not with us today, but we don’t want any other seafarer’s life to be lost again.”

The crew informed HRAS that they considered the 28-year-old Sea Princess to be other than seaworthy, and they claimed that she was running on emergency levels of bunker fuel. Sea Princess' last PSC inspection was conducted in Mumbai in February 2020, and her Equasis record shows that officials found 14 deficiencies, including issues with her accommodations, her fire safety systems and her cargo handling equipment. She was not detained.