Ship stranded in Jamaican waters to be placed on auction block
Attempts are now being made for a marine surveyor to provide an up-to-date valuation of a ship that has been in Jamaican waters since late last year when its operators ran into financial difficulties.
At least 13 Filipino crewmen were left stranded inside the cargo ship MV Trading Fabriza with little food and inadequate sleeping facilities just off the coast of Kingston last November, as a legal battle reportedly dragged out between the ship's owner and his financiers.
The crewmen, who were for some time being fed by local authorities, were subsequently returned home.
"Someone was supposed to come out of Miami, but we know what happened with the hurricane," said Oswald Augustus Sherriah, admiralty bailiff of the Supreme Court, last Friday.
Sherriah said that as soon as the valuation is done, a date will be announced and persons will be able to bid for the ship at a public auction.
According to Sherriah, the ship was built in 2011 and was last valued at US$10.4 million.
It was registered in Malta and is approximately 180 metres long, fitted with three generators, four cranes, and has a gross tonnage of 22,988 tonnes.
Sherriah told The Sunday Gleaner that the owner of the vessell was taken to court by one of his mortgagees and the court ruled that the ship should be sold and the mortgagee paid.
But since the ruling, the mortgagee is reportedly now trying to secure the vessel for himself.
"All of a sudden he does not want the boat to be sold any more ... he wants the court to hand over the ship to him, and he has applied to the Court of Appeal," said Sherriah.
In the meantime, Captain Johnny Pretell, director of marine and professional studies at the Caribbean Maritime University and master mariner at the German shipping company Harren and Partner, last week expressed an interest in carrying out the valuation.
"This is what we do for a living. We buy vessels, we sell vessels. We can do that job easily. I can do the operational part. We will do the report, and if you pay for it we send it to you confidentially. The accountant department deals with the prices," said Pretell, as he pointed to his company, Harren and Partner.
Pretell said while the Caribbean Maritime University offers full training to its students in all elements of marine employment, the students would have to get certified overseas to do the valuation as Jamaica does not provide such licences.
"In order to be a marine surveyor, you have to finish the Marine Academy, five years, then you have to work a minimum of five years as a captain before you can apply to the maritime authority.
"Then there is a test before you are given the licence," said Pretell.
He added that Harren and Partner is to open a dry dock in Jamaica soon as other dry docks across the Caribbean are proving too expensive.