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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 05:11 GMT 06:11 UK
Help for stranded shipmates
Map showing Immingham
The ship came to Immingham from the Middle East
A seamens' charity in north-east Lincolnshire has come to the rescue of a crew on a Maltese ship left without food, water or money.

The "Black Sea Star" brought cargo from the Middle East to Immingham a month ago.

The Maltese vessel was arrested temporarily over fuel bills unpaid at another port.

It then emerged that the crew from Georgia in the former Soviet Union had not been paid for up to 18 months and was surviving on a diet of potatoes.

The men were really depressed. They hadn't seen fresh food for a while.

Padre David Craig

The ship was carrying road construction machinery to the UK from the Suez Canal.

It was arrested by the Admirality Marshall Officer on 5 September 2001.

The welfare of the 11 crew members then became the responsibilty of this authority.

But when the arrest order was lifted a few days later after their employers could not be contacted, the men were left without any support.

Workers from the Immingham Seafarers Commission discovered them in a sorry state.

Padre David Craig, the centre's cleric, said: "The men were really depressed. They hadn't seen fresh food for a while.

"They were desperate to contact their families. The captain is 70 years old."

Bankruptcy claims

The Maltese authorities cannot find the ship's owners.

Telex messages received from Georgia claimed bankruptcy on their behalf.

The men refused to hand over their cargo to the Dutch company who commissioned its delivery until they had been paid.

The firm gave them a bonus payment as a gesture of good will which they accepted.

This has enabled six of them to get a flight back to their families from Humberside airport this weekend.


There is no welfare state in Georgia and the mens' families have been without any money for all this time.

Padre David Craig
The remaining five continue to get provisions from the Immingham charity while the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) attempt to get their back-pay.

The vessel has navigational defects and is not allowed to leave the port.

The Associated Ports Authority can petition another arrest order if port fees remain unpaid.

The ship will then be sold by tender to cover these expenses.

Padre Craig said this was one of the worst rescue missions he had ever been involved with.

"They'd been living on variations of potato soup.

"There is no welfare state in Georgia and the mens' families have been without any money for all this time."

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