Skip links

Indian and Sri Lankan Crew Stranded on Vessel After Collision

Twenty Indian crew members and one Sri Lankan are stranded aboard the Dali, a container ship that collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. For the past seven weeks, they have been confined to the vessel due to an ongoing investigation. With their phones confiscated, they are unable to pay bills for their families back home, Indian media reported.

“They can’t do any online banking. They can’t pay their bills at home. They don’t have any of their data or anyone’s contact information, so they’re really isolated right now. They just can’t reach out to the folks they need to, or even look at pictures of their children before they go to sleep. It’s really a sad situation,” Joshua Messick, executive director of the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center, a non-profit organization that works to protect the rights of mariners, was quoted as saying by the BBC.

The sailors, on board since March 26 due to the investigation, have been without communication with their families, causing significant hardship, especially for those with young children. Their mobile phones were confiscated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as part of the investigation into the crash.

A recent report by federal safety investigators raises several unanswered questions. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) outlined four power failures experienced by the 290-meter-long ship, with three of these failures, including two just before the crash, remaining unexplained.

Despite explosives being used to remove part of the bridge from the ship’s hull, the crew still cannot leave the ship. They will remain on board until the probe is completed, reported ABC News. The US authorities have begun interviewing the crew members and have collected documents and voyage data recorder extracts as part of their investigation. Visa restrictions also prevent the crew from leaving the ship.

The crew members are facing emotional distress and fear of personal criminal liability. Their unions, the Singapore Maritime Officers’ and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen, stated that morale has dipped due to these fears and emotional distress. They have requested the quick return of the sailors’ mobile phones to connect with their families and handle personal matters.

Dave Heindel, president of the Seafarers International Union, emphasized the importance of maintaining the rights and welfare of the crew members during the investigation. “We call on the authorities to be mindful that seafarers utilize mobile devices to conduct personal business for bill payments, and more importantly, transfer money to their home country to sustain families. Crew members are becoming demoralized without the basic tools we all take for granted,” Heindel said, as reported by the BBC.

In an effort to improve the situation, the crew’s confiscated phones have been replaced with new ones, and they now have unlimited use of satellite communication. Synergy Marine, Dali’s Singapore-based management company, has also provided care packages, including Indian snacks and handmade quilts. Darrel Wilson, a spokesperson for Synergy Marine, stated that the crew is “holding up well” and that company representatives have been checking on them constantly since day one.

The Dali, a 984-foot cargo ship bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka, collided with the 2.6-km-long Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26. The ship was carrying thousands of tonnes of steel and cement, which fell into the Patapsco River following the collision. The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a crucial transportation link in the Washington metropolitan area, was built at an approximate cost of $60.3 million and carried an estimated 11.5 million vehicles annually. Six construction workers went missing after the collapse and are presumed dead.

This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.