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Seafarer abandonment figures for 2023 a cause for concern

11 Jan 2024

19 January 2024, LondonThe International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has today released its figures for the numbers of vessels abandoned in 2023 – which show a worrying increase on figures from the previous year.

A total of 132 abandonments were reported which is 13 more than in 2022 – an increase of 10.92%. The overwhelming majority of those reports (129) were made by the ITF.

Under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (‘MLC’), you are deemed to have been abandoned if the shipowner fails to cover the cost of a seafarer’s repatriation; or has left them without the necessary maintenance and support; or has otherwise unilaterally severed ties with them, including their failure to pay the seafarers’ contractual wages for a period of at least two months.

Key findings showed:

  • Owed wages from the 129 ITF reported cases in excess of $12.1 million.
  • 1,676 seafarers contacted ITF from abandoned vessels.
  • Indian seafarers were the most abandoned, with more than 400 cases.

ITF have received more than $10.9 million in owed wages from 60 of these vessels so far. The final figure will exceed $12.1 million as cases take time to resolve and as other seafarers come forward, thereby increasing the amount of recoverable wages.

Steve Trowsdale, ITF Inspectorate Coordinator said "The ongoing rise in the number of seafarer abandonments is unacceptable. It is a consequence of an industry where the seafarer can be a throw-away commodity. Seafarers and their families pay the ultimate price for the greed and non-compliance of ship owners, enduring the inhuman consequences of a system that compromises their well-being, dignity and basic human rights. ITF inspectors do an incredible job in holding to account those shipowners that try to get away with treating seafarers like some sort of modern-day slaves”.

The highest numbers of abandonments by flag state were:

Flag states table


Media contact: Siân Manaz +44 (0)7850 736145 <

About the ITF: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice for nearly 20 million working women and men in the transport industry across the world.