Egyptian Navy Arrests 17 Sudanese Sailors.. Efforts to Release the Ship (Nadir)

Al-Sammani Awadallah

The Egyptian authorities seized the Sudanese ship (Nadir), along with 17 Sudanese and 1 Egyptian sailor who were on its deck.

The vessel sailed for maintenance, but the Egyptian authorities demanded payment of US$75,000.

The captain of the ship sent an SOS for help from the Sudanese authorities to intervene to release the ship, which had been under the seizure of the Egyptian authorities since 14th of February without cause according to what the captain.

The Capitan of the crew said that 17 Sudanese sailors and one Egyptian were stranded under the arrest of the Egyptian Navy in the Halayeb area on the Sudanese/Egyptian borders without knowing the reasons of their obscure arrest, considering that the vessel was on its route to Suez Canal for maintenance.

The SOS pointed out that the ship lost all constituents of daily life such as foodstuff, potable water and medicine, demanding the Sudanese authorities to intervene and take the necessary procedures to protect the Sudanese sailors.

Mohammed Al-Mubarak, the owner of the ship, didn’t know that he will face such a gloomy fate when he was recruiting the Sudanese sailors along with the Egyptian engineer to sail with the ship for maintenance in the Suez Canal.

Al-Mubarak bought the ship in a public auction, but the fates led him to fall in a big loss when the Egyptian authorities demanded US$55 thousand as a penalty for reasons he did not know.

On his part, Al-Mubarak sought all the ways to find a solution for his issue. He contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which promised to resolve the issue; but at the same time the captain of the vessel said that the sailors are suffering to the extent that they were unable to get their food which their representative prepares in Egypt because they have to pay first.

Captain’s Report on the Voyage from Sawakin to Suez

Ship: Nadir

Harbor: Birnis / Egypt

Date: 04.03.2021

SUB: Report of the Captain on the voyage of the Ship from Sawakin to Suez

I the undersigned, the captain of the ship (Nadir) I declare the following:

On 12.02.2021 the ship departed Sawakin harbor, heading to Suez harbor, for maintenance purposes in the dry shipyard with 18 sailors on deck (17 Sudanese + one Egyptian).

During the voyage, the main engine was subject to a breakdown, so the ship stopped, but due to the bad weather conditions, the ship was deviated from its direction to near the area of Abufondira inside the regional waters, forcing us to anchor in the area on 14.02.2021 till we had managed to repair the engine.

On 15.02.2021 we managed to repair the breakdown and attempted to continue the voyage, but the Egyptian military motorboat banned our move and ordered us to head to Suez harbor, which was 88 nautical miles far. They took the passports of the crew and the ship was seized subject to penalty amounting to US$55000 because the ship broke down inside the regional waters.

Since 14.02.2021 we are still in Birnis area under the seizure of the Egyptian naval base, despite the fact that the ship is owned by a Sudanese national (Mohamed Mubarak).

The captain of the vessel, Hussein Salih Sabir, gave detailed information on the seizure of the ship and its crew.

Photo of Nadir (Ship) docked in Birnis

Seeking the Help of the Sudanese Foreign Ministry

The owner of the vessel (Nadir), Businessman Mohamed Al-Mubarak, had to recourse to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appealing for its intervention to release the ship and its crew.

He affirmed that the Egyptian authorities seized the ship on 4th February and kept the passports of the crew, demanding the settlement of 55 thousand US dollars.

Al-Mubarak pointed out in his letter the daily losses due to the seizure of the ship and the suffering of the crew.

It is worth noting the ship previously belonged to a Tanzanian figure, and when it had docked in Sawakin’s harbor the naval crew filed a complaint to the court demanding the payment of the salaries of its Egyptian crew.

The court ruling amounted to selling the vessel in an open auction, and accordingly, the Sudanese businessman Mohammed Al-Mubrak bought it considering that he is an officer in the Sudanese navy.

The ship was docked in Sawakin’s harbor for about two years without crew or maintenance, after which the owner recruited 17 Sudanese sailors and an Egyptian national as senior engineer. The vessel left heading to the Suez harbor for maintenance purposes but was seized since 14th February 2021.

The new owner did not take down the Tanzanian flag from the ship until its seizure by the Egyptian authorities despite his obtaining all the documents that proves his ownership to the ship.

The captain of (Nadir), Hussein Salih Sabir, said that they sailed from Sawakin’s harbor on the 12th February 2021, heading to the Suez harbor for regular maintenance.

A few days after sailing, the main engine was subject to breakdown near Shalateen shores due to the leakage of lubricants from the engine, forcing the senior engineer to stop the engine to preserve the ship.

Then he aired an SOS to all the nearby ships according to the SOLAS, but did not receive any response.

The idle ship was subject to being tossed about by the waves and winds till it reached the Birnis harbor, where they threw the anchor to prevent more drifting.

They stayed there till 16th February, when an Egyptian navy boat, carrying Egyptian soldiers, arrived and carried out investigations. Then they called the agent who promised to send them what they need. They had remained there without any contact with any party due to the ships communication apparatus’ stoppage.

On 28th February, another naval boat came and they told them that they had no communications with the agent to receive any supplies.

They asked for the telephone of the agent and called him but the Egyptian agent, Mohammed Salim’s Bolars agency, denied his relation with the ship.

The captain then told them that he would stay a day or two to refuel the ship with used lubricants, after which he would sail to the Suez.

All of a sudden, the Egyptian authorities took away the crew’s passports and ordered them to go to the Birnis military harbor where they were told that the ship is seized despite the fact that they did not commit any violations.

Further, they found out that the Egyptian authorizes imposed payment of 73 thousand US dollar; an unfeasible penalty which had not been ever incurred throughout the history of Sudanese/Egyptian naval dealings.

Captian Hussien Salih Sabir said that the conditions of the crew are dire, in terms of feeding and lack of potable water, as they have to pay big monies to get their food and water.

He described what they are facing as piracy and blackmailing from a state which “we consider as a sisterly country”, considering that we have mutual interests with Egypt.

Captain Hussien has called on the Sudanese authorities to intervene and release them from this unjust seizure.

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