BALTIMORE, Md. - The 18-member crew of the Newlead Granadino has been stranded in the Baltimore harbor for nearly two months, a relatively short stint compared to two other vessels which have beenstuck for several years.
There's no saying when the men on-board the vessel will be able to set sail again. The last time was on Sept. 20. A major engine issue is what’s keeping the crew, most from the Philippines, from leaving Baltimore.
“It's not like going to your local repair shop and getting a part off the shelf. These parts have to get made and it may take an extended amount of time to get them in place,” said Commander Charles Bright, Chief of Preventions with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region.
The repairs are also expected to be costly, an estimate is around a million dollars. NewLead, the Greek owner of the vessel, is reportedly struggling financially. The bank that holds a mortgage on the ship has stepped in, but still no word on when repairs will happen, or what comes next for the vessel and the men on-board.
“We're hoping sooner rather than later but the vessel I said does have major engine problems and that could take a couple of months to fix,” said Commander Bright.
This isn't the first time a ship in Baltimore has faced uncertainty. In 2008, the Snow Bird was deemed unseaworthy and detained by the Coast Guard.
“We had an experience that went on two years, 2008 to 2010, with a vessel that was docked with somewhat similar issues, a lot of engine issues. I think they were mostly getting paid but it seemed as though they were always getting paid a little late. They were getting provisions but they didn't look very nice. The ship didn't smell good,” said Rev. Mary Davisson, the executive director and support chaplain, with the Baltimore International Seafarer's Center (BISC).
And in the 90's a Yugoslavian ship named the Durmitor was detained for five years after it was caught up in a political situation surrounding the Bosnian War.
The Newlead Granadino is now the one in a holding pattern but they're hoping it won’t be as long as the others. In the meantime, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is assisting the crew. The ITF also works with a number of abandoned ships around the world.
“I checked our books and we're dealing with about 190 active cases right now around the world, and there are so many more not even documented,” said Barbara Shipley, an inspector with the ITF.
Technically, the Newlead Granadino isn't abandoned. Currently, the bank is taking care of some of the problems. But for the other ships left with no one, the 140 ITF inspectors around the world try to provide the crews with the essentials.
“A lot of times they're abandoned at anchorage. They don't have visas, there's no way to come on shore, they are fishing for food and they are drinking rainwater and it's a very sad situation,” said Shipley.
It's the unfortunate reality for some seafarers in the shipping industry, who leave their families to make a living but then can't come home because of circumstances outside of their control.
“It almost never happens that we meet a seafarer who said, ‘Oh I took this job because I thought it would be fun and glamorous.’ The vast majority of them are taking these jobs to support their families,” said Rev. Davisson.
Coast Guard detentions are not uncommon. According to the Port State Control 2015 Annual Report, there were ten last year in Baltimore. However, a spokesman said very rarely are the vessels detained required to stay as long as the cases mentioned.
ABC2 reached out to NewLead for comment but did not hear back.
Shipley told ABC2 that the captain and crew of the Newlead Granadino are doing well, and are thankful for all of the contributions from the community.
If you’d like to help, all non-perishable donations are welcome at the Seafarers International Union (SIU) located in Canton at 2315 Essex St., Baltimore, Md. 21224. The SIU keeps a daily list of any needs of the crew and delivers donations to the vessel as soon as there is a need. Please direct any questions about donations to Elizabeth Brown at 410-327-4900.
The Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center is collecting cash donations. For any questions, you can email Rev. Mary Davisson at email@example.com or call 410-685-1240.
The Urban Pirates will be making weekly meal deliveries to the crew of the Newlead Granadino. If you are interested in donating a hot meal you can reach them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.