Stranded Filipino crew members of the Hanjin Scarlet will have a feast of the traditional ‘lechon’ tonight, thanks to the generosity of kababayans in Victoria.
The South Korean-owned cargo ship is moored off the coast of Victoria as it awaits resolution of the bankruptcy proceedings against the world’s 7th largest shipping company.
Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre in Victoria collected donations for the sailors including a 20-kg. pig complete with 90 kgs. of coal. The sailors plan to do the roasting on deck and will be joined by carollers from Pender Island.
In addition to clothing, canned food and rice, the association is also collecting Filipino food and desserts for the crew, as well as cash for them to send home to their families.
“I feel for them, just staying there in the ocean,” Agnes Myhre, president of the association told CBC News. “The are so near with us, yet so far, because of what is going on with the ship.”
Thirteen crew members were able to go home in late October, but a similar number have not been able to leave the ship since the bankruptcy in late August.
The vessel went to DP World’s Vancouver terminal on Oct. 25 after the ship had been seized on Sept. 14 and was held in Prince Rupert’s outer harbour for 55 days, according to a report by The Northern View.
The company declared receivership at the end of August, and DP World has taken the Hanjin Shipping Company to federal court to pay for unpaid bills.
On Oct. 23 the captain and crew received, Peter Lahay, the national coordinator from the International Transport Workers Union, who boarded the vessel to investigate the situation. Lahay had come to Prince Rupert for a meeting with the Port of Prince Rupert’s security and emergency committee to discuss seafarer’s rights.
Lahay had been monitoring the vessel since the Hanjin Shipping Company declared bankruptcy, which he knew would lead to difficult times for those onboard the ship.
The crew was allowed off the vessel briefly in early September when the Hanjin Scarlet offloaded some of its cargo at Fairview terminal. At that time, Lahay had a member from the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen’s Union Local 505 board the vessel to inquire about the crew’s health and concerns.
“He gave me a comprehensive report. All indications were fine,” Lahay said. But after the ship was seized and stuck in Anchorage 25 for weeks, their mental state deteriorated.
“The captain was starting to face some difficulties with the crew. He didn’t have any answers, and there’s depression and lack of motivation, issues like that were starting to arise,” he said.
There were 24 crew members aboard the Hanjin Scarlet, including one woman, the second officer from South Korea. On Thursday, Oct. 27, when the vessel docked in Vancouver’s shipping container terminal, Lahay met with the captain once again.
Approximately half the crew will be able to return home because they’re at the end of their employment period. But “They’re begging to get off. They all want off,” Lahay said.
The rest of the crew will remain on board to maintain the ship, while the court battle between DP World and the Hanjin Shipping Company ensues.
The original destination of the Hanjin Scarlet from Prince Rupert was meant to be Seattle, but the ship remains under arrest and it has been given permission to move to Vancouver. “The matter is still in federal court,” confirmed Michael Gurney, the manager of corporate communications for the port.
The cargo destined for Prince Rupert was arranged to be unloaded but the vessel still contains cargo for its other destinations. The next scheduled ports of call were Seattle, Vancouver and back to Tokyo.
Lahay said that he deals with cases three to four times a year on issues aboard ships in Prince Rupert.
“Whenever we ask anybody to do anything for us up there to support the crew, people in Prince Rupert always step up to the plate,” he said and the same was for the Hanjin Scarlet crew during their lengthy time on the North Coast’s harbour.