Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The crew of a ship who barricaded themselves in their cabins in a row over wages are seeking to have the vessel arrested. The Russian sailors on board the Merchant Brilliant, which is anchored three miles off Heysham, Lancashire, claim they are owed $167,000. They have been talking with the ship's Latvian owners, ADG Shipping, but have failed to reach a settlement. The crew now plans to petition the Admiralty Marshal to arrest the ship. If the petition is accepted, the ship would be sailed back to port, have papers served on it and the vessel would be impounded pending a court settlement. The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), which has two inspectors on board helping to broker a deal, are now finding legal representation for 11 members of the crew to petition the Admiralty Marshal for the arrest to take place.
Merchant BrilliantITF spokesman Sam Dawson said: "Talks with the owners of the Jamaican-flagged Merchant Brilliant are at a stalemate and 11 of the crew members have therefore decided to seek the arrest of the ship." Ken Fleming, an ITF inspector on board the ship, said there had been a heated debate with the ship's owners on Monday night over pay and excessive hours. As a result, the crew and the inspectors barricaded themselves inside the cabin overnight by putting furniture against the doors as the ship sailed from Belfast. However, when it docked at Heysham in the morning, they came out. They then anchored off the coast where they spent the day trying to reach a deal with the owners. A spokesman for Norfolkline, which chartered the Merchant Brilliant, said the firm had temporarily ended its hire of the vessel. "The charter agreement between Norfolkline and the owner of the Merchant Brilliant, ADG, clearly stipulates that the vessel be operated in accordance with ITF guidelines," he said. "Talks between the owner of the Merchant Brilliant and the ITF are ongoing, and we are hopeful that a fair and satisfactory conclusion to this matter can be reached in as short a time as possible. "However until such a time, Norfolkline has decided to suspend the hire of the vessel." It is thought that papers may be served on the ship on Wednesday.