SuperyachtNews.com confirmed with the local port – Porto Lotti – that the superyacht had indeed been detained. A representative for Porto Lotti said that the local Coast Guard had undertaken a seizure, and that Cacique was being held at the port on the basis of a court order, but was unable to reveal further details of its circumstances.
But Sabina Prandi, the legal representative for the captain and stewardess who are claiming unpaid wages (another crewmember – the chief engineer - is undertaking the same claim, but with different representation), was more forthcoming about the current situation.
Prandi asserts that, when the vessel was purchased in September 2012 by a Caribbean-based holding company the crew undertook a month of unpaid work, based on the promise of contracts materialising in the future. During this period the crew were offered contracts aboard other superyachts, which they declined based on the promise of a contract to work on board Cacique.
So, on this basis, Prandi says the claim is for “sums of money for the month that the crew were on board without being paid, and additional compensation for loss of work.” “They have probably lost between three to six months of work, as now it is too late for this winter”, she explained.
With the vessel detained Prandi says the holding company effectively has two options: to pay the sum her clients are demanding or to pay the court a fixed sum so that it revokes the detention order. However, it appears neither eventuality appears likely. “They don’t want to pay and it is looking very unlikely they will,” Prandi predicted. “So it does not look like the yacht will go free.”
Unfortunately it appears this dispute is set to continue, with the likely outcome disillusioned yacht crew and a disgruntled beneficial owner who is unable to enjoy his newly purchased vessel. In Prandi’s view, “It will take about two years for this process to [reach a conclusion], and if they do not pay the yacht will not be released for this two year period.”
For Geoff Moore, general manager at Royale Oceanic's yacht management division, this case is indicative of the need for the incoming Maritime Labour Convention, and the protection it guarantees for seafarers finding themselves in similar scenarios.
"The contracts the crew had under their former employers should have been met and closed when the yacht was sold to the holding company," Moore explained.
"I think this leads onto the MLC and [demonstrates] how the situation would be different if we were to fast track a year into the future and a similar yacht was arrested. The seafarers will be well protected with approved Seafarer Employment Agreements that are approved by the flag state. The 'shipowner' - who will often be the management company, as they can be accountable - will have to ensure the crew are financially secure, salaries are paid and they are repatriated. The law will ensure that, even if the beneficial owner is bankrupt or similar, seafarers will be looked after as the shipowner must have adequate insurance in place to be able to settle these issues."
N.B. The vessel in question is not First Draw (formerly Cacique), as previously reported.
Royale Oceanic Profile | Royale Oceanic Website
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