Returning Home: The story of the successful repatriation of the VYSSOS crew

Recently, the MTWTU and Hellenic Shipping News published an article about an incident in the Bystre involving the crew of the bulk carrier VYSSOS (IMO 9385790, Panama).

The ship’s captain reached out to Nataliya Yefrimenko, ITF Inspector in Ukraine, and the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU), lodging a complaint about delayed wages and inadequate living conditions for the crew.In addition, work was started to resolve important issues such as the repatriation of crew members and the payment of wage arrears. More information is available by the link:

Despite the challenges, the situation had a positive resolution, even though the seafarers had to spend some time on the damaged vessel with unclear expectations. Along with providing assistance with necessities, the ITF Inspector, on the crew's behalf, successfully contacted the P&I Club, being a financial security provider under the MLC standard, responsible for covering the shipowner's liabilities in case his failure to fulfil contractual obligations towards the crew. Consequently, eight out of the eighteen crew members were promptly signed off, received their wages, and were repatriated. This swift resolution was facilitated by the fact that these seafarers did not require visas to move through Ukraine.

However, complications arose for the remaining nine seafarers, who were Egyptians. The process of their repatriation was hindered by restrictions imposed due to the absence of Ukrainian visas and permits to enter the Republic of Moldova. The process of repatriation of these crew members was facilitated thanks to the efforts of the Embassy of Ukraine to the Arab Republic of Egypt, the ship's agent, and the local P&I Club correspondent based in Odesa.

The Greek captain evinced great responsibility and dignity by deciding to leave the ship last, ensuring the vessel's maintenance and the successful repatriation and payment of all crew members.

Eventually, through collaborative efforts between the ITF Inspector, MTWTU, the P&I Club, the Embassy, and the ship's agent, all crew members received their wages for the period from 1 December 2023 up to the date of discharge, and a war zone bonus for the whole period of the ship's stay in warlike areas; were signed off; and safely repatriated to their indicated locations.

A sense of professional solidarity motivated every measure of all the parties involved to influence the settlement of this dire situation for the VYSSOS crew, who have become hostages to circumstances. The successful resolution of the VYSSOS case stands as a testament to the power of solidarity and help within the maritime community. The collaborative approach not only addressed immediate concerns such as emergency aid, repatriation, and outstanding wages but also showcased the importance of cooperative efforts in safeguarding the rights and welfare of seafarers.

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