On the 15th November 2019, the Chief Engineering joined the vessel, which is owned and operated by a Turkish company in Istabul.
It is reported that during a bunkering operation in Djibouti from 21 to 23 November, an incorrectly fitting valve caused an onboard spill. In light of the situation, the Chief Engineer was blamed for this incident while he was subsequently issued with a formal warning letter by the Turkish Master on 5 December 2019.
In response to this, the second Chief Engineer subsequently drafted a letter to support his colleague, refuting the Master’s allegations and version of events.
Several days after, on 10 December, the Chief Engineer received a letter from the Indian ship management company recommending him that his contract would be terminated on grounds of "incompetence" and that he was to disembark the vessel on the 11 December 2019 whilst at Cape Town anchorage. At that point his contract was not due to finish until mid-March 2020.
Although the Chief Engineer did not disembark the ship as the email requested him and a new Turkish Chief Engineer entered the vessel the day after.
On the 12th December, the two engineers conducted an e-mail entitled "We are in Distress", and send it to the ITF union. Their email included a range of addressees, outlined the alleged situation on board and charged the Turkish Master with attempts at defaming and undermining the work of the Indian crew onboard.
Furthermore, the letter defended the actions of the Chief Engineer and made reference to the abuse he had suffered as a consequence of the Master’s behavior. At the same time, the C/E sent initial correspondence to Human Rights at Sea.
A week later, the second Chief Engineer was himself issued a formal warning letter by the Master, for low-quality performance, claiming that has been subject to pressure due to the fact that was supporting the Indian Chief Engineer.
On 20 December, under the circumstances, the Chief Engineer was forced to leave the vessel contractually, but received no support as he was not a member of a union, the vessel did not have an ITF union agreement and this was the first time he alleged that he had been abused in such a way in over 20 years of sailing.
The Chief Engineer marked systematic attempts by the Turkish Master and replacement Turkish C/E at undermining the work of himself, the second Chief Engineering, and their onboard colleagues. He also claimed that information has been fabricated in order to support the narrative and create circumstances which would lead to the contractual dismissal of himself and his colleagues.
- No official logbook for crew sign-on was available, or existed
- No official logbooks for the machinery space existed hampering daily operations
- The replacement Turkish C/E was undertaking engine room roles without deconfliction with the Indian C/E thereby confusing the daily working schedules.
- The behavior of the Turkish Master and C/E was allegedly motivated by racism.
- The Master’s behavior involved acts of bullying, harassment and verbal threats.
- No support was made available to the Indian C/E and 2/E and the union representative sided with the Master.
- The Master’s behavior resulted in the Indian C/E fearing for his life and as a consequence, suffering mental health problems.
In the present case, it is not known what role, if any, the company has played in either attempting to stamp out the practice of bullying and harassment on board its vessel or indeed whether its actions or omissions have simply facilitated the alleged occurrence. It is also acknowledged that there is a yet untold opposing version to be disclosed by the company.
Concluding, the above-mentioned case is investigated by Human Rights at Sea while continues and responses from the commercial shipping entities are waited upon due to non-engagement with the charity to date.