THE captain of a ship detained in Birkenhead docks has disputed claims his crew have been denied heating and adequate food.
Crew on the Turkish-owned Most Sky say they have not been paid for months and the shipping union representing them said they are living in squalid conditions.
According to the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) the boat must remain in dock until its crew are paid.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has also detained the ship, which is registered in Panama, over concerns about its condition.
Last week the News gained access to the boat and spoke to crew members and their captain and chief engineer.
The crew said prior to us boarding the ship the generator had been off – leaving them with no heat or light – and the captain had ordered it turned on as we arrived. Although they do not speak much English they were able to say only one generator is working and to conserve fuel it is switched off for hours at a time.
However, the crew were grateful to receive coats, hats, blankets and food from local company Major Skip Hire.
Owner Phil Major said they had heard about the crew’s plight and wanted to help them out.
The crew are being assisted by the ITF, and their inspector, Tommy Molloy, said the crew members should not be reduced to receiving charity.
He said: “These men are owed wages and their company should be sorting this out.”
The union has condemned the living conditions of the crew, who have little or no heating and have used a kebab maker and security light to provide warmth.
When the chief engineer showed the senior crew’s quarters, however, there was an electric heater in at least one of the rooms.
The ship’s captain Ziya Turic, a retired Turkish naval officer of 25 years, said the problems with the ship were related to the current economic crisis and cashflow problems faced by the ship’s owner Er Em Shipping and Trading Co Ltd.
Dressed in a T-shirt and flip flops while his crew were all wearing overcoats, he insisted there was enough heating on the ship and said: “The crew have food”.
He added the pay would be soon sorted out and the Most Sky would be on its way within one or two weeks.