Palau denied the allegations by International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) claiming that Palau has “failed to do its job” by failing to step in to help the crew of a ship registered in Palau.
An article “Crew Abandoned for 11 Months Calls for Action Staging a Hunger Strike” in ITF’s online news the Maritime Executive, claims that a bulk carrier vessel registered under Palau flag, owned by a Qatari was abandoned by the owner and the vessel’s flag state (meaning Palau) in Kuwait. The ship’s crew consisting of Indian, Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Bangladeship have been abandoned on the ship for past 11 months at the port of Kuwait.
The crew started a hunger strike this January 7, seeking to get off the ship and recover more than $400,000 dollars of wages owed them.
According to Hayes Moses, Director of Marine Transportation in Palau, ITF is “not quite accurate” in their reporting and that Palau government is developing a response to them.
Director Moses said that the vessel Ula, was registered under Palau but its registration expired in March of 2020 and the ship did not renew its registration.
Furthermore, he said that to address the situation, Palau consulted with International Maritime Organization and the recommendation was that, for Kuwait to exercise control over the vessel and for the potential buyer and ship operator to resolve the issue, the vessel must be stateless, meaning not registered under a country.
The issue of stranded or abandoned seafarers due to COVID-19, the difficulties faced by the crew members returning home either due to lockdowns or ship owners abandoning the crew has reached crisis levels with some crew members committing suicides as result.
ITF asserts that Flag State or countries with ship registries have responsibilities for the crew of the ships that are registered under their flag.

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