The former master of A Whale received an industry award in recognition of his service to his crew and the seafaring community. Jan Webber of Sailors’ Society was honoured to accept the LloydsList Award for Seafarer of the Year on behalf of Captain Khan Jubair Niaz on Monday night. The situation on board the oil skimmer drew widespread media attention and the master’s conduct has been repeatedly praised. Jan, Director of Fundraising at the Society, who liaised with the crew throughout the ordeal, read out a speech that Captain Niaz had prepared, in which he explained the tensions and hardships on-board.

As a crew we waited in hope. It was not just us but our families who were suffering as salaries went unpaid for six months. By June, I was desperate to resolve the situation

As supplies ran low, fighting broke out between the tense and frustrated crew. I tried to get help from every source, including the media, lawyers and trade unions, but it was the Sailors’ Society that gave us something very important: they gave us hope. Captain Niaz also praised Tom Leander of LloydsList and Melissa Mejias of the Liberian Registry for their help in fighting the stranded crew’s corner. The episode has brought the issue of seafarer abandonment into the light, thanks in no small part to the captain’s persistent battling for the rights of his crew. His emotional speech closed with a hopeful note. I am really grateful for all the parties who helped throughout this difficult situation. It is not the victory of A Whale crew. It is a victory for the seafarer community.