The two FSM barges entered the port of Eritrea on their maiden voyage to the Maldives from Egypt without seeking permission.
The Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that it is engaged in discussions with the Eritrean government regarding the release of two tug boats owned by Fuel Supplies Maldives (FSM) that are currently detained in a harbor in Eritrea.
The tug boats, designed and built in Egypt, were on their way to the Maldives when they were forced to berth at the Eritrean harbor due to stormy weather on April 26. However, the Eritrean authorities detained the boats, alleging that they had entered the harbor without the necessary permits.
Although the crew members of the tug boats have returned to the Maldives, Fuel Supplies Maldives (FSM) has encountered challenges in transporting the vessels back to the Maldives and added that the company’s officials are unable to visit Eritrea to resolve the issue.
A media official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it had launched discussions with the Eritrean government through diplomatic channels.
The two vessels that are currently detained in Eritrea were part of a larger commission by Fuel Supplies Maldives (FSM) to expand its fleet. FSM commissioned a total of four vessels in 2019 to enhance its operations.
The vessels were developed at a cost of USD 753,000 each. They have a storage capacity of 180,000 liters of diesel and between 40,000 and 60,000 liters of petrol. [Mohamed Rehan | The Edition]
FSM Ship’s Crew Released; Boats Seized
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 2 local captains, 2 local engineers, and Egyptian sailors.
The two barges entered the port of Eritrea on [April 26] 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 the Maldives has been asking for a direct conversation with the foreign minister of the country, but there has been none, he added. [Atoll Times | 8 June 2023]