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The Panama Maritime Authority Supports Seafarers On Panamanian Flag Vessels And Nationals On Foreign Flags

The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) through the General Directorate of Seafarers (DGGM), has been managing various actions in two (2) international cases, in order to safeguard the Panamanian crew members who are on the ship “NISSI COMMANDER I” of the Mongolian Ship Registry, as well as the crew of other nationalities who are on board the ship named “IBA”, which belongs to the Panama Ship Registry, for which the following actions have been taken:

The Mongolian Registry Vessel, NISSI COMMANDER I, which is currently at anchor in the Bay of Santa Marta in the Republic of Colombia.

It is important to indicate that this ship with IMO number: 8705333, does not belong to the Panama Ship Registry, it belongs to the Mongolian Registry, for this reason it is under the laws of that country, however, because there are eight (8) crew members on board the ship (7 of Panamanian nationality and 1 nationalized), the necessary steps are being taken, through diplomatic channels, to support them as far as the laws and international conventions allow us.

The procedures began on January 25, 2021, the date on which a letter was received from the Consulate General of Panama in Barranquilla expressing a complaint, which was forwarded to the Department of Maritime Labor Affairs of the DGGM. Subsequently, on January 26, 2021, the Directors of the Panamanian Association of Naval Officers (APOM) sent us a letter detailing the situation of the Panamanian crew members and the request for prompt assistance for them.

Given this scenario, letters were sent to the Mongolian Registry, in addition, the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Arch. Noriel Araúz sent Letter No. ADM-DGGM-ALM-0106-2021, to our Ambassador and Representative of the Permanent Mission of Panama to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Luis Bernal, informing him of the situation of the ship’s crew and requesting his support with the Mongolian counterpart, in order to request repatriation as soon as possible as well as payment of the wages owed, based on compliance with the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC, 2006). In the same way, via email we are in constant communication with the General Consulate of Panama in Barranquilla.

The latest information on this case was received on February 5, 2021, in the afternoon, in which we were notified by the Consul General of Panama in Barranquilla, attorney Michele Barría Ruiz, that: “the Shipowner was contacted to find out the status of the Panamanian crew, who informed through his legal advisor that the real situation of the crew is as follows: currently they have food and water on the ship, Dimar Colombia and the Port State Control are aware of the situation, their health condition is good and according to a doctor brought on board there is no COVID infections. In the ship’s log everything is noted. The departure will be between tomorrow 06 or Sunday 07 of February, once the fuel arrives, with respect to wages, a payment arrangement will be made in order to pay for the delayed months in two days”.

The DGGM keeps an eye on the national crew members, via mobile phone, until the situation comes to a good end and the Panamanian crew members return to their homeland.

It is appropriate to express our gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) and Consul Barría, for showing their concern and putting forth their good offices so that a solution to the delicate situation in which the national crew members find themselves is promptly reached.

Regarding the IBA Vessel, which is currently in the Persian Gulf:

We seek to put an end to the odyssey of the three (3) crew members of the Panamanian flag vessel IBA, with IMO: 94382002, nationals of Myanmar, India and Pakistan, which remain abandoned by the Shipowner, who unilaterally broke his ties both with them as with the ship, approximately forty-three (43) months ago.

The Department of Maritime Labor Affairs of the DGGM received the labor complaint, referring to this case, on April 18, 2019, it was based on the abandonment of three (3) crew members, with wages owed (18 months for the Chief Engineer and the Second Engineer) and pending repatriation, reflecting the abandonment approximately since November 2017.

In compliance with national laws and the obligations acquired as signatories of international conventions, the Republic of Panama, as a Flag State, carried out the pertinent investigations and steps to deal responsibly with this delicate situation, where we find that before the abandonment complaint was filed, the financial guarantees of the vessel “IBA” had expired on June 18, 2018, and P&I Maritime Mutual Insurance Association (NZ) Limited, notified on January 9, 2019, the cancellation of the financial guarantees for failure to pay.

For this reason, assistance was provided to the request of the crew, and we offered to cover the expenses of the repatriation in accordance with Standard A2.5.1.5 of the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC, 2006), on two (2) occasions, being notified, as follows:

● By email dated July 17, 2019, it is informed that despite our efforts, no response has been obtained from the owners and / or operators, so the Administration has decided to cover the repatriation costs, and we request the confirmation of the seafarers who wish to be repatriated and their respective information.
● Letter No. DGGM-ALM-132-2020 of April 16, 2020, addressed to each one of the crew members, with a copy to the International Seafarers Assistance and Welfare Network (ISWAN, for its acronym in English) , to the Government of Myanmar and the Government of Pakistan, in which the commitment of the Panama Maritime Authority is reiterated with all our seafarers on board vessels with the Panamanian flag and they are offered, once again, to cover the expenses of their repatriation, in accordance with Standard A.2.5.4 paragraph 5 of the Maritime Labor Convention, MLC, 2006.

Both letters were rejected by the crew:
● By email dated July 28, 2019, through the Regional Head of our Dubai Regional Office, UAE, he referred us to the Declaration issued by the crew on board the vessel “IBA”, with IMO No. 9438200, through which, all of the crew on board refuse to be repatriated by the Panama Registry.
● By email dated April 27, 2020, through the Regional Director of ISWAN, who informs us that the crew received our letter, but by means of a voice message the crew members express their refusal to be repatriated.

Additionally, this Administration imposed a documentary restriction on the “IBA” vessel, which prevents the cancellation of the registration and the change of ownership in the registry, due to the abandonment of its crew members, and through Resolution No. 106-S-79-2019 of December 13, 2019, the aforementioned vessel has been sanctioned.

We will continue to provide legal monitoring of the situation of this ship and its crew, to ensure that national and international regulations that protect the labor and social rights of seafarers are complied with and that the repatriation of the crew is carried out.

The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) through the General Directorate of Seafarers (DGGM), will continue to ensure compliance with national and international regulations that protect the labor and social rights of seafarers,
Source: Panama Maritime Authority

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