Crew of Filipino sailors recovering in Halifax after member killed, 3 injured

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A crew of Filipino sailors was recovering in Halifax on Monday, after a harrowing weekend at sea left one member dead and three others injured.

The bulk carrier MV Giulia I was reportedly hit by a high wave Saturday about 320 nautical miles southeast of Nova Scotia while on its way to Africa from Virginia.

It left Norfolk, Va., with 20 crew on board. A distress call was received at 2:12 p.m. AT and the vessel diverted to Halifax, where it arrived just before 1 a.m. Monday.

Karl Risser, an inspector with the International Transport Workers Federation, said the crew members on board were understandably shaken up after losing a fellow sailor, a 30-year-old man.

"I had the chance to visit the vessel today and talk to some of the seafarers," Risser said Monday. "Obviously they're very traumatized by the incident and we're working with them to provide support from our community here in Halifax."

Risser said the crew members hoped to get off the vessel before setting sail again.

Preston Mulligan/CBC
Preston Mulligan/CBC

Hundreds of international sailors go 12 months or more without shore leave. The crew hasn't left the vessel since September.

"Unfortunately in the times of COVID, it's very difficult," Risser said. "We have a shore-leave process, but it has to be agreed to by the ship owner and we're working really hard to make sure we can get these guys off for a little while."

In a statement to CBC News, the Canada Border Services Agency said it is not their role to grant or restrict shore leave.

Transport Canada investigating

Transport Canada is leading the investigation into the accident.

"Transport Canada is currently conducting a port state control inspection of the vessel to review compliance with the Maritime Labour Convention and ensure obligations regarding crew wellness and rights are respected," an emailed statement said Monday.

"The department is also inspecting the vessel for damage and ensuring it is sufficiently crewed according to applicable laws."

The vessel will remain in Halifax until the inspection is complete, the statement said.

The agency also confirmed the RCMP is investigating.