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Singapore Maritime Union Officials Brief MTD Board on Dali Crew


The Maritime Trades Department was lucky to host two trade union officers from Singapore at its annual Executive Board meeting on April 25, even if the circumstances of their visit were quite serious. Gwee Guo Duan, of the Singapore Maritime Officers Union (SMOU), gave the Board a report on the crew of the Singapore-flagged MV Dali which had been stuck outside of the Port of Baltimore since late March

Gwee Guo Duan, of the Singapore Maritime Officers Union (SMOU) speaks to the MTD Executive Board as MTD President David Heindel (right) looks on.

Accompanying Brother Gwee was Brother Chen Chuanyi from the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS). The two were part of a larger Singaporean union delegation visiting Baltimore to meet with the crew and assess their condition. The crew has been confined to the vessel since its fateful allision into the Francis Scott Key bridge. 

Brother Gwee reported that morale had remained strong, but was beginning to dwindle now that the vessel was subject to FBI investigation. Principally, their cell phones–their only link to the outside world–had been confiscated, with an unclear sense of when they would be returned. To add to their troubles, many of their visas have expired since the incident.

Brother Gwee asked for the MTD’s solidarity with the crew, and that the Board support the requests the SMOU and SOS have made of the authorities to expedite the return of the mariners’ phones as well as their safe departure to their countries of origin. 

Brother Augustin Tellez of the Seafarers International Union motioned that the MTD issue a formal statement in support. That statement, currently under consideration by the Executive Board, reads as follows:

Fairness for the Crew of MV Dali

The 24-person crew of the MV Dali has been confined to their vessel for over a month after it collided into the Francis Scott Key bridge outside the Port of Baltimore. While the disaster response team in Baltimore has been admirable in their treatment of the crew, the Maritime Trades Department expresses serious concerns at how the crew has been handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during its investigation of the incident.

The FBI’s rapid search of the vessel disturbed the crew and infringed on their wellbeing. Namely, the FBI confiscated the mobile devices of the entire crew regardless of if they were involved in the navigation or engine operations of the vessel. Despite assurances that the FBI would return those devices within a day’s time, they still maintain custody of them. For the crew, their mobile devices are their only means of communicating with their loved ones or handling their personal business, half a world away. 

The MTD has no desire to interfere with the current investigation, but also stresses that the crew’s rights and welfare should not unnecessarily be infringed upon during its course. The crew and its representatives at the Singapore Maritime Officers Union (SMOU) and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) have put forth three requests that the MTD holds are eminently reasonable:

  1. If not critical to the investigation, the FBI should return the confiscated phones as swiftly as possible to the crewmembers.
  2. Parole for shore leave should be granted, as much of the crew’s visas have since expired.
  3. Crewmembers not required for further investigation should be given an expedited repatriation. 

The MTD stands in solidarity with the SMOU, the SOS, and the crew of the Dali. We urge the authorities to conduct their investigation of the incident with the utmost degree of care. 


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