Crew of AFL New England begins to make way home
Wednesday, 06 June The Halifax Herald

June 5, 2012 - 5:52pm By BILL POWER Business Reporter

Some members of the crew of the stranded container ship AFL New England headed home Tuesday, with remaining officers expected to depart Wednesday.
The beleaguered ship will be shut down entirely and left under the care of the Halifax Port Authority pending a creditor’s sale through the courts.
“Members of the crew are understandably in high spirits to be making their way home,” George Malec, the authority’s vice-president of business development and operations, said Tuesday.
Malec said the ship will likely remain tied up at the port for months.
“It will go through the legal process as an asset, leading to a sale and eventual court settlement for creditors,” he said.
It is the latest development in a saga that saw the German-owned vessel arrested by the Federal Court of Canada on April 27.
This followed the collapse of the New York-based company that was leasing the ship for a Halifax-to-New England container service.
The first of the 13 crew members — most originally from the Philippines — departed the ship late Tuesday afternoon.
Some remaining officers from Eastern Europe were expected to depart Wednesday after the shutdown process was completed.
Rass Shipping Co., of Bramstedt, Germany, was left hanging with the vessel tied up in Halifax after assorted debtors filed warrants relating to unpaid bills in Canada and the United States.
Malec said some of the parties involved negotiated a deal to ensure any back wages owed members of the crew will be paid when the ship is sold as an asset.
“A crewing agency in the Philippines has advanced the necessary funds to cover transportation costs for the crew members and the agency will be repaid when the ship is sold.”
Malec said the port’s primary objectives in situations when ships are arrested is to ensure the well-being of the crew and to maintain the safety of the harbour.
It was these goals that prompted the authority to bring the ship in from where it had been anchored for weeks in Bedford Basin and to help negotiate safe passage for the crew, said Malec.
The Halifax Mission to Seafarers tried to remain in contact with the crew while it was anchored in the basin.
Cellphones were provided so the crew could contact their families, said mission co-ordinator Maggie Whittingham.
(bpower@herald.ca)