Seafarer Commits Suicide Aboard Asphalt Tanker off UAE

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On January 28, a seafarer who had spent 13 months aboard the asphalt tanker Sea Princess committed suicide, according to charity Human Rights at Sea (HRAS). 

The Indian-owned tanker had recently been sold to a scrapyard in Alang and was under way in the Gulf of Oman, HRAS reported. When the crewmember could not be located, the master raised the general alarm and called for a full search of the vessel. The victim was found hanging in the boiler room. 

HRAS learned of the casualty on January 30 when a crewmember reported that access to UAE port state services had not been made available to the vessel. The Sea Princess’ owner informed the charity that the officials in Khor Fakkan had refused the vessel access to port and would not allow the deceased’s body to be offloaded for repatriation. 

After a petition from the Indian Consulate General in Dubai, officials in Khor Fakkan agreed to dispatch a public prosecutor to attend the ship on Sunday. The remains of the deceased will be prepared for repatriation.

The Sea Princess’ shipmanager informed UAE outlet The National that the deceased had just had lunch with his shipmates and had “appeared to be in a good mood” in the hours before his passing. Given the vessel’s itinerary, he would have been back in India in less than a week’s time. The cause of the suicide remains under investigation. 

“Human Rights at Sea extends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased, and welcomes the supporting response by the coastal state authorities and welfare organizations,” the charity said. 

The crew informed HRAS that they considered the 28-year-old Sea Princess to be other than seaworthy, and they claimed that she was running on emergency levels of bunker fuel. Sea Princess’ last PSC inspection was conducted in Mumbai in February 2020, and her Equasis record shows that officials found 14 deficiencies, including issues with her accommodations, her fire safety systems and her cargo handling equipment. She was not detained. 

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