Vietnamese sailors stranded in Malaysian waters since MCO

A ship carrying 12 sailors has been stranded in Malaysian waters since mid-March. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A crew of Vietnamese sailors has been left stranded in Malaysian waters since the movement control order (MCO) came into effect in mid-March, with food and supplies running low.

The National Union of Seafarers of Peninsular Malaysia (NUSPM) said the 12 sailors had resorted to painting distress messages on their ship’s hull in order to ask for help, according to maritime news portal The Maritime Executive.

“Help us. No food. No salary,” said the painted message on the ship, Viet Tin 01.

NUSPM said the crew had contacted it through a communications application, after which the union boarded the ship with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to inspect the vessel.

They had also provided the sailors with emergency supplies such as rice and dry food, while finding that the crew were living in deplorable conditions.

It said the vessel had been abandoned by its owner since mid-March, leaving the crew with no fuel or power. It added that the absence of lights onboard also created a navigational hazard.

NUSPM urged the Vietnamese government to repatriate its citizens, adding that it was obligated to uphold the well-being of the sailors as it is a signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention.

It also said the sailors should receive their back pay in light of the current pandemic and economic crisis, adding that they would have difficulty finding work in the current situation.

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