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Captain of stranded ship in Kaohsiung in failed escape attempt

The captain of a general cargo ship which had been stranded for half a year in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, after its ship owner failed to pay the port for damages, tried to escape by going ashore on 18 September without permission.

Unluckily, the Chinese captain was caught by the police and sent back to the 1995-built 8,400 dwt ship Uniprofit. All 16 crew members, 11 Chinese and five Indonesians remain stranded on Uniprofit as the owner has yet to respond to a Taiwanese court order to pay approximately US$1.91 million in towing fees after the ship ran aground in waters off Fugang Fishery Harbour in Taitung county on 8 March.

The owner of Uniprofit engaged a Taiwanese salvage company to tow the vessel to Kaohsiung, where it has remained since 22 March. However, the vessel owner failed to pay for the towing service, causing the salvage company to apply for Uniprofit to be arrested. Under the court order, the ship’s crew is obliged to stay on board, although the ship agent continues to supply daily necessities to the seafarers.

At the time of its grounding, Uniprofit was carrying 149 containers from Yantai, China, to Bahodopi, Indonesia.

Databases indicate that Uniprofit is owned by Hong Kong-registered Sinounion Shipping Services, whose contact numbers are not known.

Frustrated with their detention, the crew hung a white banner on the ship in June, expressing their wish to return home. However, Uniprofit could not be released until its owner settled its towing arrears.

Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau said that it has applied to the courts to appoint a receiver for the ship, so that the crew may disembark.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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