The crews of ‘Ardesco’ and ‘Short Sea’ have been “stranded” on the detached mole since May this year whilst their owners go through company insolvency issues.
“Although we are free men, we are not free to leave,” said a very frustrated Captain of Ardesco, Ante Rosic.
“We are free watchmen and guards for the ship,” he added.
The two vessels are part of a trio of ships affected by the insolvency of German company, Seavoss Schiffahrt GmbH & Co, with the third ship currently stranded in Morocco.
The men working on board these ships have not been paid since February, with one crew member not being paid since December last year. He had to leave his wife and family at home struggling to make ends meet.
According to Captain Rosic no one from Seavoss Schiffahrt GmbH & Co, will respond to their emails, phone calls and questions. They are simply “being ignored.”
With seven crewmembers on-board Short Sea and eight on-board Ardesco, the 15 men are not covered by any insurance, despite working in a “dangerous environment”, as the company’s insurance on the vessels and the crew expired a month ago.
All of the crew members can come ashore in Gibraltar, but some do not have the correct travel documents to enter Spain.
In June, all communications to the vessels were cut due to non-payment of bills, leaving the men with no access to the internet or phone line. Captain Rosic said that the men are using their own phones to send emails and keep up communications with their worried families at home.
“Most of the crew have completed their contracts and are not able to leave the ships because of unpaid wages and repatriations. So far, we have sent many e-mails to the company, liquidator and bank with questions about our insurance on board, fresh water and food supply as well outstanding wages and repatriations – all without any answer.”
“They have made many promises (by phone only) and broke any one of them successfully refusing to pay our wages,” he added.
Including the time when they were working and being paid, some of the men have been on-board for nine to 14 months. That means some crew members have not been home or seen their family in 14 months.