Tugboat Crew Still Stranded, Experienced Inspector Calls Unseaworthy Vessel ‘Worst By Far’

This December 2012 video from Canada’s Global News discusses the eight crewmembers of a Bolivian-flagged, American-owned tugboat who were stranded in the Novia Scotia city of Halifax after rough weather conditions. The Globe and Mail reported that Transport Canada inspectors refused to let the 69-year-old CRAIG TRANS leave Halifax because of “poor living conditions and concerns about pollution.” Canada’s CBC News reported that federal inspectors found numerous safety violations, including issues with navigation equipment and faulty escape hatches. The crewmembers have been sleeping on the unseaworthy vessel, which the Globe and Mail said is “full of garbage, cockroaches and inoperable showers,” since December 18, 2012.

“We got no money on us,” chief mate Pedro Andrade told the Globe and Mail. Andrade joined the crew in early December and signed on for three months. He was to be paid $9,000, but Andrade  told the Globe and Mail that neither he nor the other crew members—who joined in November—have been paid. The crew was on its way to Montreal to pick up a ship to be towed to Mexico when they came into Halifax because of the storm. They ran out of food a few days before their arrival and the little water they had left was contaminated. According to the Globe and Mail, they “live off the generosity of Haligonians, wearing donated clothes, eating food provided by the community and helped by the team at the mission.”

“I have seen infestation of roaches and ants and so forth running through food, but nothing, nothing, to this extent,” Gerard Bradbury, an inspector for the International Transport Workers’ Federation, told CBC. “But you must understand this owner has done this before. This owner now, this is the fifth time in North America in the last two years that he has brought this type of trash in to facilities in Canada and the U.S.”

The CRAIG TRANS is owned by Scotch Plains, New Jersey-based Vesta Shipping Lines, Inc. Owner Gerard Antoine said that it could cost as much as $50,000 to fix the tugboat. He did not commit to a time when he would be able to come to Halifax to deal with the problem, only telling the Globe and Mail in a telephone interview, “I’m working on it.”

Bradbury described the conditions as “just horrid.” He called Health Canada, the country’s agency responsible for public health, to have the boat condemned so the crew can be put up in proper living conditions. “This is the worst by far that I have ever seen, and these guys are living and sleeping in it on an average of 11 to 14 hours a day,” Bradbury said.

A seaman is entitled to safe working conditions and the payment of his wages.  If you have a question about unsafe working conditions or failure of your employer to pay your wages,  you can contact our firm at (800) 392-6072 to schedule a free consultation or fill out the form on this page to have our Jones Act lawyers review your case.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Jones Act attorneys