Most Sky, a 1,972 gross tonnes general cargo ship owned by Er-Em Shipping and Trading of Istanbul is not so much a Turkish delight as a Turkish disgrace. So says the Mersey River pilot who conducted her into Birkenhead, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to whom he reported her condition and which has detained her indefinitely, the crew and the International Transport Workers Federation.
The four-year old vessel was previously detained in Setubal, Portugal, for 36 days in 2008.
The pilot expressed concerns not only about the condition of the vessel, but also the fact that nobody on board could communicate in English.
ITF inspector Tommy Molloy is currently representing the interests of the Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish crew of the vessel. Molloy had himself been alerted to the condition of the ship through ITF colleagues in Turkey; they also reported that the company had a history of non-payment of wages.
An inspection revealed that there was no fresh fruit, vegetables or bread on board; the shower and toilet facilities were appalling and there was no heating. Crewmembers pooled their limited resources to buy bread from a local shop and put together makeshift heating, for example, by rigging a security light and using an old kebab grill. A maritime solicitor has helped the crew to secure the arrest of the vessel in a bid to win back wages owed to them as well as repatriation costs. There is also a separate claim against the vessel as a result of salt water damage to the steel cargo.
Molloy commented: “The conditions on board this vessel are among the worst we have seen. The crew has to continue living in these appalling conditions while they wait for their wages to be paid and to be repatriated. The vessel is only four years old but it looks about 20. It appears that nothing has been spent on maintenance. It is difficult to guess how long the vessel might remain here, but it won’t leave until all deficiencies have been put right and all claims satisfied.”