Abandoned at sea, the cargo crew adrift without wages, fuel or supplies: a look back

Today we return to one of our favourite episodes of the year.

Captain Ayyappan Swaminathan set off from his home in southern India in January 2017 to work on a ship in the Persian Gulf. He told his daughter he would be back soon. But two years later he was still onboard the MV Azraqmoiah after a dispute over wages. His crew claimed they were owed tens of thousands of pounds and were now adrift with dwindling supplies as conditions onboard worsened.

The Guardian reporter Karen McVeigh, who had been following the story, told Anushka Asthana it was far from a unique case: thousands of other seafarers had been similarly abandoned by their employers across the globe. The Rev Andy Bowerman, the Middle East and south-east Asia director of Mission to Seafarers, who had recently paid a visit to the MV Azrakmoiah with fresh supplies and to top up phone cards, described the awful conditions on the vessel stranded six miles off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Captain Ayyappan Swaminathan, first right, with some of members of the MV Azraqmoiah cargo ship’s crew.

Photograph: Courtesy of Human Rights at Sea

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