'Intervene quickly': Hong Kong targets stranded ship owner

SUPPLIES have been delivered by helicopter  to the crew of 20 stranded off Gladstone, with those involved in the operation saying the strong winds made it too dangerous to freight the supplies by boat.

Mission to Seafarer chaplain Russell Cunningham said his and other organisations, including International Transport Workers Federation, gathered 200kg of Gladstone-produced food that was then flown to the coal ship.

Mr Cunningham said if morale had not been the best among the crew, who had been stranded since July 19, it would be once they gnawed into one of the fresh pears or apples they received.

FULL STORY | >>Stranded coal ship owners 'vanished' without paying crew

The stranded Five Stars Fujian has been sitting off Queensland's coast since July 19.
The stranded Five Stars Fujian has been sitting off Queensland's coast since July 19. Shipspotting.com

"It would be better now. They would all be having a nice apple or a pear or enjoying nice leafy green vegetables in their cooking," he said.

Fresh chicken, vegetables and fruit were among the supplies.

Mr Cunningham said he also delivered on a special request for fishing hooks from the captain.

He said he had made at least "100" calls today   to co-ordinate the logistical nightmare.

LISTEN | Mission to Seafarer Chaplain Russell Cunningham tells of effort to provide emergency rations

He said he was not aware Australian Maritime Safety Authority had advised ITF against delivering long-term supplies, saying he was focused on "the welfare of the people".

"I don't know anything about the politics. I just steer away from it," Mr Cunningham said.

But he said AMSA had "guaranteed us" that once the current supplies ran short, they would be replenished.

"We expect three to five days and we'll look at putting more provisions on board," he said.


THE NATION'S chief maritime authority has called on its Hong Kong counterpart to ensure the owner of a stranded coal ship off Gladstone re-stock's the crews food supplies, as it isn't Australia's responsibility.

The 20 crew on the Five Stars Fujian have been stranded off the Port of Gladstone since July 19 without wages, fuel, while their food supply is running dangerously low.

On Saturday, in response to this paper's article, the Australian Council of Mission to Seafarers committed $5000-$10,000 for long-term supplies to sustain the crew for the 16-day voyage to Hong Kong.

But the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has advised against delivering long-term supplies to the ship, International Transport Workers Federation's Matt Purcell said.

>>No food, no wages: Crew stranded off Queensland coast

An AMSA spokesman said it contacted Hong Kong's AMSA equivalent asking for their support, and to intervene in resolving it quickly.

"AMSA also asked the owners to provide more provisions.

"[But the flag state administrators] have now advised AMSA that the owners have arranged for adequate supplies to be delivered."

Mr Purcell said delivering the supplies defeated the purpose of holding the owners of the ship accountable for the crew.

"It's all good intentioned, but that lets the owners off the hook," he said.

"They want the food delivered, but not to the extent of $10,000, because all that's doing is letting the owner off the hook."

The AMSA spokesman said short-term supplies, delivered today, would sustain the crew until tomorrow, when supplies delivered by the ship's owner were expected to arrive.

Mr Purcell says the charter company, which is buying the coal, "are not saying anything", nor is the owner of the ship, who is believed to be Chinese.

Mr Purcell said he couldn't understand why the Australian mining company that owned the $40 million worth of coal on the ship, which was loaded at Mackay's Dalyrpmple Bay Coal Terminal, hadn't publicly lobbied for the ship's owners to re-fuel it.

"If I owned $40 million worth of coal I'd like to know where the money is," he said.

An AMSA spokesman said he would soon provide an update on if the owner of the ship intended to refuel the ship and pay the wages of the crew.

Yesterday, Mr Purcell said the crew "isn't going anywhere" until their wages are paid.

He said under the Maritime Labour Convention, of which Australia is a signatory, the vessel couldn't move until the crew's wages are paid.

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