Now in their fifth month, the crew of the Newlead Granadino is still stranded in the Baltimore Harbor. No repairs have been made, and the future of the vessel remains in limbo. Fortunately, a number of the men on-board were sent home but there are others are still left waiting.
The 18-member crew sailed into Baltimore on September 20, not knowing their several day voyage would turn into an extended stay.
“The Newlead Granadino is a tank ship that experienced an engine problem on its way to the U.S.,” said Commander Charles Bright, Chief of Preventions for the Sector Maryland National Capital Region of the U.S. Coats Guard. The Coast Guard detained the vessel until the repairs are complete.
The ship's owner, NewLead, couldn't pay for repairs so the bank that owns the mortgage on the ship took over. Several organizations also stepped in to help the crew including the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).
“The ship management company that was hired through the bank has provided plenty of provisions. They've got food, they've got beverages, they're getting their pay regular now,” said ITF Inspector Barbara Shipley.
Back in November, six men were sent home and just last Wednesday, six more men were sent home. According to Shipley, six still remain. They'll take care of the daily maintenance but there's no sign of them setting sail anytime in the near future.
“All the repairs they initially needed, they all still need to be repaired. Nothing has been done and my understanding is that nothing will probably be done until a new buyer comes in and is willing to spend the money to take care of everything,” said Shipley.
While conditions have improved, the men still face everyday challenges. The ship is currently without heat.
“The boiler on the vessel is still in need of repair as parts continue to be needed,” said Shipley.
Boredom is also another hurdle.
“Right now, it's just the daily upkeep and keeping their minds active. They're watching TV and I guess they're playing games. I think they're a little lonely. Now there's only six of them so there's not as many people to interact with,” Shipley said. “The community has been so wonderful already, it's just that there's nothing I can ask for that these men really need except maybe prayers and good thoughts.”
The men have space heaters so they are staying warm. Shipley added there’s no set deadline as to when the ship will be taken out of the water if no buyer comes forward.
"The ITF and Baltimore community will continue to stay on top of the wellbeing of the remaining crew members until all have been sent home,” said Shipley.
The six men on-board also have free wireless internet, courtesy of Believe Wireless Broadband. The company reached out to the Baltimore International Seafarers' Center last fall to help the crew. Through the service, the men are able to communicate with their families daily.