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Advanfort and Seaman Guard Ohio crew at odds over company's support

Advanfort and Seaman Guard Ohio crew at odds over company's support
Security firm Advanfort and the crew of its vessel Seaman Guard Ohio, who remain stranded in India 17 months after this ship was arrested, disagree over the company's level of support for the 35 men.

Charges against the crew were quashed in July last year, but the crew have no access to their travel documents, a situation maritime charities have called "unlawful".

Asked what reasons were given by its insurers for rejecting claims for healthcare for the detained men, or the reason insurers allegedly stopped paying their accommodation costs, Advanfort acting president Ahmed Farajallah stated that the company does not have a "meaningful" response at this time, adding that the question should be answered by the insurers.

Last week Advanfort assigned blame for the crews' lack of accommodation and welfare cover to insurers, saying they had "put profits over people". Insurance brokers Aon were "unable to comment" on previous stories on the case.

Advanfort's response did not address other questions, including whether they felt they were liable for the crew's welfare, and why the company had offered no compensation to the men who were detained while working for the company.

On Human Rights as Sea's recent report, a detailed timeline of the case and its impact on the crew, Farajallah commented: "We are grateful that the report is shining a light on their plight and hopefully the continued attention will help in the efforts to get the Indian Authorities to allow these men to leave and rejoin their families."

Crewmembers of the Seaman Guard Ohio have stated repeatedly that they feel "abandoned" by the security firm. Hotel bills for the crews' accommodation went unpaid, leading to legal threats against the men themselves and them subsequently having to find their own accommodation at their own expense, with assistance from the Mission to Seafarers and UK charity Veterans Aid.

"AdvanFort remains committed to trying to get the judicial and political systems to free our 35 and reunite them with their beloved ones back at their homes. We will not rest until we have obtained the full release of these brave men," Farajallah added.

Crew member John Armstrong told Seatrade Global last week: "Advanfort has given us not support since the start."