Crew change crisis robs second engineer Srinivasa Nayak of performing wife’s last rites

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on May 24, 2020

Nayak’s trip home to perform his wife’s last rites was an ordeal due to the lockdown restrictions

The crew change crisis, facing the shipping industry has thrown up several instances of seafarers not being able to tend to their elderly and ill parents back home or be by the side of their wives for the birth of a child. But what Srinivasa Nayak endured was the loss of his life partner.

Nayak - a second engineer on board the Panama-flagged container ship MOL Earnest, owned by Japan’s Mitsui O S K Lines - was shattered to hear of the death of his wife Vidya on April 29 after she was suddenly diagnosed with acute leukemia.

The tragic course of events unfolded so fast that there was nothing he could do to save her even with the best of treatments, leaving their five-year old daughter Siri to his care.

Nayak’s trip home to perform his wife’s last rites was an ordeal due to the lockdown restrictions and stoppage of international flights into India.

Due to the pandemic, it was impossible for him to sign off from the ship at a port. His employer, Mitsui O S K Lines, tried various means including transferring him to a ship travelling to one of the Indian ports for sign off as the government here allowed crew change for Indian seafarers at Indian ports from April 21.

The general manager of MOL Ship Management Captain Devender Joshi met Nayak when MOL Earnest docked at Singapore port.

Joshi assured Nayak that Mitsui OSK Lines will do the best it could to relieve him when the ship called Singapore again after two days, giving him hope.

Subsequently, MOL Maritime (India) Pvt Ltd (MOLMI), the wholly-owned Indian manning unit of MOL Manning Service S A and MOL Ship Management Singapore secured permission from the Directorate General of Shipping, Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Embassy in Singapore and PSA Singapore on “humanitarian grounds” and repatriated Nayak on May 23 on an Air India flight under the Vande Bharath mission from Singapore to Bengaluru, said a person familiar with the development.

Nayak could not be reached for comment.

“It was very difficult to arrange Nayak’s repartition as it involved many departments,” the person said.

Nayak is currently undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine stipulated by the Karnataka government at a facility in Bangalore only after which he will be able to re-join his family.

Nayak, according to the person mentioned earlier, is grateful to the ship’s manager, MOLMI, the government agencies in India and Singapore and his colleagues on-board for their support during his bereavement and for helping him disembark from the ship.

Tokyo-based Mitsui O S K Lines, one of the world’s top shipping companies, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Published on May 24, 2020

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