Blumenthal ship detained for nine days in Belgium port finally released
“The proper maintenance of ships’ equipment is just as important as the proper treatment of seafarers - a failure in either system can lead to serious accidents. Again, we’ve seen Blumenthal’s standards fail to stack up, with another Blumenthal vessel detained this time for serious safety breaches,” said ITF inspector, Sven Hemme.
Port State Control boarded the vessel at the Port of Ghent on July 1, 2019, following a complaint from a seafarer. Inspectors found 36 deficiencies, including major defects that resulted in the detention of the vessel.
Serious breaches included: non-functioning emergency lighting, batteries and switches; unusable life-saving appliances; incorrectly maintained lifeboats; inadequate fire extinguishers; insufficient fire training for the crew; and issues with the general safety policy and procedures on board. Inspectors also found a number of structural problems including insufficient electrical maintenance, rust and unsafe, damaged doors.
The MV Lita remained under detention by Port State Control Belgium until critical deficiencies were rectified, and was released from its arrest on July 9, 2019.
The MV Lita was also the target of protests at the Port of Ghent by ITF affiliated dockers unions ACV-Transcom and BTB who delivered drinking water to the crew on board the Lita following claims that seafarers on board the ship were being forced to collect rain water with tarpaulins to survive while the vessel was off the coast of Brazil in May.
"We’ve seen breaches time and time again on Blumenthal’s ships, symptomatic of the FoC system that allows for exploitation and labour abuse of international seafarers,” said Hemme.
“We’ve repeatedly called on Blumenthal to be part of the change to help improve the world’s maritime industry, and to bring all their FoC vessels under ITF Agreements and agree to a transparent compliance process that ensures seafarers’ rights, freedoms and working conditions are protected.
“The company has continued to ignore the ITF, so again we’re asking governments around the world to alert and ask their port state control to keep a watchful eye on Blumenthal’s fleet and audit and inspect their vessels in their ports to ensure that more than 700 seafarers across their fleet aren’t subjected to unsafe or exploitative conditions,” said Hemme. ■