“One of the worst examples of substandard shipping”

‘Donald Duckling’ – chief engineer said to have been dismissed for requesting essential spare parts ‘Donald Duckling’ – chief engineer said to have been dismissed for requesting essential spare parts
Industry Database

UK-based trade union for maritime professionals Nautilus International has released details of a vessel detained in port, and which has been described as a ‘Mickey Mouse operation’.

Panamanian-registered bulk carrier Donald Duckling, owned by TMT Shipping of Taiwan, was detained by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency in the Port of Tyne & Wear, after an inspection revealed a long list of serious deficiencies. Crew members are said to have had such poor food provisions onboard that they were forced to catch fish from the side of the vessel which they had to cook on deck using dunnage because galley equipment was out of order.

The 16-year-old ship had previously been detained for 121 days in Gibraltar, when 21 safety deficiencies were found by port state control officers, and in September an inspection in Las Palmas found 33 deficiencies onboard. The chief engineer had been dismissed after requesting spare parts to rectify problems identified in the port state control inspections.

Nautilus/International Transport Workers’ Federation inspector Tommy Molloy is helping the crew members, and said the vessel was one of the worst examples of substandard shipping that he has encountered.

Crew members had not been paid on time on a number of occasions, he added, and formal requests by two seafarers to be repatriated because of family illnesses had been ignored.

“The fact that the vessel has been detained for such periods of time and for the nature and scope of the deficiencies provides clear grounds, in line with their contracts of employment, for the crew to claim repatriation due to breach of contract,” said Mr Molloy.

“The vessel is clearly not seaworthy - which ought to be of grave concern to the charterers and cargo receivers. It is clear that the crew would have been placed into potential danger had the ship left port for the voyage,” he added.

The ship had arrived in Tyne Port to load a cargo of scrap metal bound for Korea. Mr Molloy has written to the shipowner requesting the payment of owed wages and the repatriation of some of the crew due to a breach of contract, in line with their contractual entitlement. He said the onboard contractual documentation for the Romanian and Filipino crew members was not in compliance with international Maritime Labour Convention requirements.

“We are aware that TMT has been having problems, but this does not excuse the outrageous treatment of the crew in this case,” said Mr Molloy. “The ship is called Donald Duckling, and it certainly is a shocking example of a Mickey Mouse operation that undermines operators who run to decent standards.”

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