Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • How in the world was a sailor stranded for 4 years  on an abandoned ship just 200 meters from shore?

  • It all started back in 2017, when Mohammed  Aisha, a Syrian sailor, joined the crew of  

  • the MV Aman, a massive container ship owned  by Tylos shipping. A promising young man,  

  • Aisha had already been named the ship's First  Mate, a promotion he would shortly come to regret.

  • On July 2017, the MV Aman pulled into the Egyptian  port of Adabiya, and was selected for random  

  • inspection. The Egyptian authorities who boarded  the ship discovered that the ship had large  

  • amounts of expired safety equipment, posing a risk  to the sailors in the case of disaster. To make  

  • matters worse, its classification certificates  were also expired, meaning that the ship hadn't  

  • been recently inspected for structural safetyTylos shipping had been criminally negligent in  

  • maintaining the ship and seeing to the safety and  security of the crew, and the Egyptian authorities  

  • immediately refused to allow the MV Aman to set  sail until the various issues were corrected.

  • The fixes should have been relatively  easy, but Tylos shipping and the Lebanese  

  • contractors currently operating the ship had  recently run into financial difficulties.  

  • This left them without the money to see to  the fixes demanded by Egyptian authorities,  

  • which left the ship and its fate in limbo.

  • With the ship on the verge of  being abandoned in their port,  

  • Egyptian authorities once more boarded  the vessel. This time they brought legal  

  • paperwork that needed to be signed- but  the ship's captain was already on-shore,  

  • likely on his way home. That left Mohammed Aisha  in charge, and without fully understanding what  

  • he was doing, he signed the paperwork required  by the Egyptian authorities, hopeful that it  

  • would lead to the ship being released or at  the very least, the crew getting to go home.

  • It would be a serious mistake on his part.

  • The paperwork that Mohammed had signed made  him the legal custodian of the MV Aman,  

  • and removed the responsibility for the ship  from Tylos shipping or its Lebanese contractors,  

  • placing it squarely on Mohammed's shouldersAs if things weren't quite bad enough yet,  

  • the contractors now were unable  to pay for fuel for the ship,  

  • which meant the engines could no longer be run  to provide electricity for the remaining crew.  

  • That meant no plumbing, no lights at  night, and no heat or air conditioning.

  • The Egyptian government allowed the rest  of the crew to leave the stranded ship,  

  • now parked 5 miles off shore and held in place by  its two anchors. Mohammed however was forbidden  

  • from leaving the massive ship, and after several  months all the rest of the crew had left. It was  

  • just him inside a ship larger than a football  field, with no electricity and dwindling food.

  • But Mohammed couldn't have predicted just  how long he'd remain trapped on that ship.

  • When the food supplies ran out, Mohammed  relied on charities to bring him food and  

  • help him charge his phone. That let him  stay in sporadic contact with his family,  

  • and he was even able to use reserve battery  power to occasionally contact his brother,  

  • a fellow sailor, over the radio as he sailed  past the stranded ship multiple times on his  

  • way in and out of the Suez Canal. TragicallyMohammed would be unable to visit his mother  

  • one final time when she passed away in 2018. He  wasn't even allowed to go home for her funeral.

  • For Mohammed, this was the lowest point  of an already grueling multi-year ordeal,  

  • but he'd have another two years to go.

  • Aboard the neglected ship, Mohammed's only company  was the occasional guard sent by the Egyptian  

  • authorities and scores of rats and insectsThe rats scampered throughout the rusting ship,  

  • having free reign of the vessel now that only  a single human remained on board. Mohammed's  

  • other companions were swarms of mosquitoes and  flies that drifted to the ship on the wind,  

  • and only served to make his already  bitter life even more miserable.

  • And yet Mohammed was not allowed  to leave the abandoned vessel,  

  • having been declared legal custodian for  the ship and legally responsible for it.  

  • Tylos shipping made a number of appeals to  the Egyptian government, who refused to lift  

  • the order condemning Mohammed to the ship  until somebody took responsibility for the  

  • vessel and removed it from its anchorage. Tylos  shipping refused, and Mohammed remained trapped.

  • In march of 2020 Mohammed's luck changed when  a massive storm severed the ship's two anchors  

  • and set it adrift. The huge container ship  drifted on the current and ended up settling  

  • on a sand bar just off-shore, close enough  for beachgoing tourists to sun themselves  

  • while gawking at the massive rusting hulk just  a few hundred meters from the breaking waves.

  • This proved to be a huge boon to Mohammed, who was  now able to swim to shore in order to receive food  

  • and charge his cell phone. He'd have to make  the grueling swim every two or three days,  

  • but the opportunity allowed him to be  around people again, even if briefly,  

  • and to get much needed food and water. Still  though, the Egyptian government refused to  

  • allow Mohammed to abandon the ship, and he was  forced to swim back after every trip to shore.

  • Mohammed's extraordinary case was taken up by  the International Transport Workers Federation,  

  • who immediately began lobbying the Egyptian  government and his former employers on his behalf.  

  • Finally, after almost four full years, the  Egyptian government allowed the ITWF to  

  • transfer guardianship of the vessel  to one of its own representatives,  

  • freeing Mohammed Aisha and letting him  fly home at the end of April in 2021.

  • The future of the MV Aman remains unsure, but  cases of seafarer abandonment like Mohammed's  

  • is actually on the rise. Though none  are as severe as Mohammed's case,  

  • dozens of other ships all around the  world have been officially abandoned  

  • by their operators and owners- in some  cases leaving crews stranded behind.

  • The crew of the MT Iba was until February of  2021 in a very similar position- though for  

  • different reasons. This crew refused to leave  their ship after the ship's operators stopped  

  • paying the crew's wages 34 months ago. While most  of the crew left, a small band remained behind,  

  • refusing to budge. If they left the abandoned  ship they would not only be breaking maritime law,  

  • but would also be forfeiting their only  leverage over their former employer,  

  • Alco Shipping. The crew's demands were  simple- they wanted all of their unpaid wages,  

  • and refused to budge until they were paid out.

  • As negotiations with Alco Shipping continued over  the years, initially a sum of $150,000 was offered  

  • to the sailors. This however was just over half of  what was owed, and the sailors refused to budge.  

  • The men lived on their ship with no powerrunning water, and no food of their own,  

  • relying on maritime charities for food and  clothing. Finally, 43 months after leaving home,  

  • 70% of the crew's wages were paid, and  the men were able to leave their ship.

  • Now go check out stranded at  sea and forced to eat each other  

  • (true story), or click this other video instead.

How in the world was a sailor stranded for 4 years  on an abandoned ship just 200 meters from shore?

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 mohammed egyptian crew shipping vessel refused

Sailor Stranded on Abandoned Vessel For 4 Years

  • 16 0
    Summer posted on 2021/05/29
Video vocabulary