A barge carrying oil that the FSM had previously docked in Egypt. Two previous barges were also seized in Eritrea. Photo/PSM

FSM ship's crew released from Eritrea; boats seized

The crewmen are in good health.

8 June 2023

Maldivian and Egyptian sailors aboard two Fuel Supplies Maldives (FSM) vessels seized in Eritrea have been rescued and brought to their native countries, but the African nation is yet to release the vessels.

The two vessels are out of four barges that were built as part of a 2019 agreement signed by the FSM with an Egyptian company. Out of the four barges, two were earlier completed and brought to the Maldives.

The two barges held in Eritrea had a crew of:

  • Two local captains

  • Two local engineers

  • The Egyptian sailors

The two barges entered the port of Eritrea on May 21 on their maiden voyage to the Maldives from Egypt without seeking emergency permission due to bad weather and rough seas. Eritrean port authorities seized the barges along with the crew on board.

FSM Managing Director Mohamed Gasam told Atoll Times on Thursday that the four Maldivian crew members arrived in the Maldives from Eritrea on Friday. They are in good condition, he added.

"The only response we have received from our efforts so far [from Eritrean authorities] is that Egyptian sailors on board the barge are being sent to Egypt and Maldivian crew is being sent to Maldives," Gasam said, pointing out that there has not been much progress in releasing the vessels.

He added that the FSM has now hired an Eritrean law firm to resolve the issue.

Gasam said that since Eritrea does not have diplomatic relations with the Maldives, efforts are progressing at a slow pace. It has been a while since Maldives has been asking for a direct conversation with the foreign minister of the country, but there has been none, he added.

A question by Atoll Times to clarify what is being done by the foreign ministry to recover the barges has not been answered so far.