The crew have been left stranded on the coal ship off the Port of Gladstone since last Friday. Photo: Glenn Hunt Coal vessel Five Stars Fujian. Photo: 7 News Queensland

Food was sourced from local supermarkets, who Mr Cunningham said were happy to help. Photo: Russell Cunningham/Facebook

About 200 kilograms of supplies were helicoptered to the crew. Photo: Russell Cunningham/Facebook

Hungry and stranded, 20 Chinese crew members remain off the Queensland coast after their coal ship was detained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority last Friday.

The vessel, Five Stars Fujian, was initially arrested by the Federal Court in late July over commercial matters and released last Wednesday.

AMSA inspectors boarded the ship once it was released to make sure arrangements were in place for the welfare of the crew and a safe voyage, however, they found there were insufficient food and wages for the 20 crew aboard and detained the vessel over breaches to the Maritime Labour Convention.

International Transport Workers Federation Australia Assistant Coordinator Matt Purcell said the crew of the 93,000 tonne vessel, which contained $40 million-worth of coal collected from the Port of Hay Point, south of Mackay,  was in “limbo”.

“For the owners to abandon their crew, virtually leaving them for dead, is beyond shocking,” Mr Purcell said.

“Even when they were being paid, the crew was barely receiving $2 an hour, which is well below international standards.

“The owners must immediately pay the crew, feed them and cover their work conditions with an acceptable ITF-approved agreement so they can make their scheduled voyage to China.”

State, Commonwealth and welfare agencies were working together to help the crew.

Ports Minister Mark Bailey said the ship owners had shown “heartless and inhumane disregard” for the welfare of their crew members.

“No seafarer should be abandoned by the employer on the other side of the globe, let alone be left without basic provisions. It’s shameful and disrespectful behaviour,” he said.

“Gladstone Port Corporation will continue to work together with AMSA, Maritime Safety Queensland, the Gladstone Mission to Seafarers and other relevant authorities and organisations to provide support and assistance wherever it can to ensure the welfare of the crew.”

Emergency provisions were delivered by AMSA on Friday, and on Monday, Gladstone Mission to Seafarers provided the crew with fresh fruit and vegetables via helicopter.

Gladstone Mission to Seafarers chaplain Russell Cunningham said they had received a copy of the store request list and did their best to buy as much as they could within the helicopter weight limit.

“We went to the local supermarket and they gave us some great prices, I was happy with my shopping, I don’t know if I did a good job,” he said.

“It was mostly fresh vegetables and fruit – cabbages, pumpkins, capsicums, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic – all those things you need to have, milk powder, rice and fruit as well.

“There was a dire request for meat, we gave them chicken, it was the cheapest meat we could get – chicken legs, wings – and we gave them fishing lines as well, that was a request from the captain.

“I am assuming he spotted some fish in the water and wanted to try and get some on board.

“It might last them about three to four days, that would be my guess. They might be frugal, but they shouldn’t have to be on a diet because they are stuck somewhere.”

Mr Cunningham said he was going to send an email to the captain to see there was reception on the ship.

“If they have telephone reception, we will try to help them to top up their phones so they can let their loved ones know where they are,” he said.

Despite not being able to speak with the crew, Mr Cunningham said he had been told they were “in good cheer”.

“I don’t know what it would be like to be sitting out on a ship at sea and not knowing when you can leave,” he said.

“That (the fresh food arriving) is the first sign the crew would have known that there were some people out there who cared for them.

“If you were on a ship, it would make you feel that at least you weren’t alone.

“We will be closely monitoring it and if any further assistance is needed, we will jump to it straight away. We will make sure contact is kept between ship and if the situation looks dire we will get more fresh food out to them.”

AMSA were in the process of securing a charter vessel to transport larger amounts of food if needed in the coming days.

The Chinese owners, based in Hong Kong, have been directed to resupply the vessel immediately and contacted the Hong Kong Marine Department, an AMSA spokesperson said.

“The Hong Kong Marine Department is addressing the deficiencies with the owners and has advised that the owners have arranged for adequate provisions to be delivered to the ship,” they said.

“The vessel will remain under detention until AMSA is satisfied that provisions are adequate and crew wages have been paid.”

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