13 miles of sea comes between 21-year-old sailor and his career

Apr 10, 2013, 04:56 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Ameya Sail, who is one of the 36 crewmembers stranded on the vessel Kamal XL, has to appear for a qualifying exam on April 15 for a course in watch-keeping that he has enrolled for, but his chances of making it back on land by Monday look slim

Ameya Sail, a 21-year-old sailor, who has been stranded mid-sea on board Kamal XL for months, stands to miss out on a valuable chance that could help him further his career. The young sailor had enrolled for a course that would elevate him to the level of a navigation watch-keeping officer, but his chances of making it back on land in time for the qualifying exam on April 15 now looks slim.

All at sea: Anand Sail (60), Ameya’s father, has been running from pillar to post at the shipping office, so that his son can be brought safely home to pursue the course

Ameya is a member of the crew that has been stranded for months 13 miles into the sea, while he is scheduled to give his exam on April 15. With time running out, Ameya’s father, a retired sales tax inspector, is making frantic efforts to get his son back on solid ground so that he can appear for the exam, but his efforts have not yielded any results so far.

Pic/Suresh KK

MiD DAY had exposed the plight of the 36 crewmembers on April 4, 2013 (‘Stranded on nightmare ship, 36 crew beg to be rescued’). The sailors are fending for themselves ever since the company that owns the ship washed its hands off them claiming bankruptcy.

Speaking to MiD DAY from the vessel, Ameya, a resident of River Wood Park in Dombivli (East) said, “I am at present working as trainee officer in watch-keeping, wherein I assist the captain of the vessel when it is in motion. After completing Std XII, I opted for a diploma course in Nautical Science and took up a job with Jaisu Shipping Company in June, 2011 on a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000. But to get further in my career I have to write the navigation watch-keeping officer examination, which is conducted by the Mercantile Marine Department under the Director General of Shipping.”

Ameya has already enrolled himself for the course that is starting from April 15, and after three months, the final examination would be held in September 2013. “The certification will then help me get a job with a higher pay packet ranging between Rs 40,000 and Rs 1.20 lakh,” said Ameya.

“But I am trapped here on the vessel and if I miss the chance to enroll myself for the course by April 15, I will miss one year. I cannot afford to miss this chance, as I have to support my parents,” said an emotional Ameya. “I have not been paid for last four months and the company owes me Rs 20,000. I haven’t shared my situation with my mother Smita, who is unwell and cannot bear the knowledge that I am stranded at sea, with no food and money,” Ameya said.

Anand Sail (60) Ameya’s father has been making the rounds of the Director General of Shipping office for the past week, seeking help, but to no avail. On Monday, Anand visited the office once again, but was asked to come back later, being told that the senior officials were out of Mumbai.

“I have already paid Rs 10,000 to enroll Ameya for the course which is starting from April 15 and the rest of the course fees has to be paid after he joins the class. I am confused, as I have no knowledge about the shipping industry. I am sure he will come back. Only after he returns will I inform my wife about my son’s hardships on the vessel.”

Asked if he would want to go board a merchant vessel once he manages to get back on shore safely this time, Ameya said, “The shipping industry has a lot of openings and one can seriously make a good career, but the problem is with certain shipping companies who are not taking good care of their employees. To make matters worse, the agents who help the company to make recruitments loot the candidates by charging exorbitant amounts as commission, ranging from several thousand to a few lakhs.” 

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