An update on past news

Saturday, May 12, 2001

Yugoslavian crew
still in isles but are
allowed to go ashore

Question: What ever happened to the crew of the Yugoslavian ship that was detained at Honolulu Harbor?

Answer: Hawaii has become sort of a Gilligan's Island for the 20-member Yugoslavian crew aboard a stranded freight ship seized by U.S. marshals in December.

Yes, they're still here. The crew members of the Obod do not know when the eternal wait will be over and they can go home.

What was supposed to be a voyage to deliver construction supplies to Washington, D.C., last fall turned into a mind-boggling, endless waiting game when the ship's owner, Barmar-Bar Ship Management Ltd., could not pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills, and the Obod was seized.

Like the group on "Gilligan's Island," the television classic in which a boat got waylaid by a storm during a three-hour tour, the Obod was caught in a storm and had to be tugged in twice to Hawaii for repairs.

The crew has not been paid except for two months' work, and many have families to support back home. Twelve of them have filed a lawsuit for lost wages.

Anne Stevens, general manager of Norton Lilly Hawaii, the shipping agent in charge of the Obod, said U.S. District Judge David Ezra on April 16 ordered the Obod to be sold. Ship broker Jaques Pierot & Son has been advertising worldwide, and several interested parties have already looked at the ship, which is now repaired, Stevens said.

Crewmembers have kept themselves busy doing work aboard the ship and are allowed to go ashore, although they have no money to spend, Stevens said. After their plight was publicized in the Star-Bulletin's Jan. 30 issue, the crew was granted a reprieve in February by the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service from a regulation that prohibited them from going ashore after a standard 29-day leave expired.

With a sale of the ship likely soon and the end of their plight in sight, the crew's state of mind has improved a bit, though they still are impatient to go home, she added.

The publicity prompted a Yugoslavian community group to offer help and support, and more recently, the Honolulu Port Council has gotten involved, she said.

Dave Lyman, a representative of the council's pilots division, said the group held a barbecue at the Waikiki Yacht Club April 29 to try to "give the guys a little bit of a break." The council consists of unions on the waterfront, he said.

They have raised a few hundred dollars for the crews' families and spending money, and some members will "stop by and see if anyone needs rides ashore," Lyman said.

Stevens said her company is owed about $350,000, and the cost mounts by $812 a day for state dockage fees and $1,000 a day for custodial fees. In February the owner owed more than $500,000 to several Hawaii companies.

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