Sailor spent nightmarish 4 years trapped aboard Egyptian cargo ship

A Syrian sailor spent a daunting 4 years trapped aboard a cargo ship off the Egyptian coast – two of them alone — earlier than he was lastly allowed to go residence earlier this month, in keeping with experiences.

Mohammad Aisha’s nightmarish ordeal on the 330-foot-long MV Aman container ship started over a authorized dispute with Egyptian authorities, the Wall Avenue Journal reported on Friday.

“I don’t understand how this occurred to me,” he instructed the newspaper in a latest interview. “The world has been isolating, however I’ve been deserted.”

The vessel was detained on the port of Adabiya, Egypt, close to the mouth of the Suez Canal, not lengthy after 29-year-old Aisha had boarded in Could 2017.


The ship’s captain was out operating errands on shore and Aisha was engaged on repairs when an Egyptian courtroom courier boarded with a letter declaring the boat could be held till its proprietor paid a $21,500 bill for a three-ton anchor purchased the 12 months earlier than.

Aisha, as chief mate, the ship’s second-in-command, signed the letter designating himself because the authorized guardian of the vessel on the recommendation of the captain, the report mentioned.

“I had no concept it was the most important mistake of my life,” Aisha instructed the newspaper.

In November 2017, Aisha referred to as the ship’s agent, Baha Fadel El Alla, to depart — however a port official instructed him that, because the ship’s authorized guardian, he was required to remain on board, the report mentioned.

Aisha obtained phrase in September 2018 that his mom had died – and by August 2019, he had been left solely alone aboard the vessel because the greater than a dozen crew members referred to as it quits one after the other and went residence.

At evening, Aisha instructed the information outlet, that the ship was as darkish and silent as a grave.

The ship’s agent equipped meals and gas, however as time went on the deliveries obtained smaller and fewer frequent.


Aisha had no quite a lot of items of dried bread to eat some days.

Two totally different instances in September 2019, Aisha radioed misery alerts, claiming the ship was not supporting life, after which took a lifeboat to shore hoping to chop by the bureaucratic purple tape.

Police escorted him again every time.

Aisha even pleaded with the authorities to place him in jail, however they mentioned they couldn’t as a result of he had accomplished nothing fallacious, the Journal reported, noting that as a result of Aisha was Syrian with out the right visa, he was not allowed to enter Egypt.

Throughout one notably scary episode in October 2019, the ship started to tackle greater than six-feet of water in and a panicked Aisha shouted, “Mayday! Mayday!” into the radio. It took hours earlier than navy patrol arrived and took him to shore.

Aisha was returned to the ghost ship – which had its hull repaired – following ten days of interrogations in navy and police stations.

Mohamed Kamel, a retired sailor employed by the ship’s agent to protect the MV Aman, was aboard the ship this time and instructed to maintain Aisha out of bother, the information outlet mentioned.

“Initially I used to be sharp with him, skilled,” Kamel instructed the Journal. “However after I noticed what he was going by, he solely had my sympathy.”

Aisha developed scurvy-like signs, and was starting to lose three enamel after months of poor vitamin. With a view to go to sleep, he took as much as 12 painkillers an evening.

In March 2021, a storm blew the vessel off its anchorage, inflicting it to run aground close to the mouth of Suez Canal – the place the huge container ship, the Ever Given, obtained caught and blocked the canal for almost every week final month.


Aisha described the storm as “divine intervention” to Kamel, who ultimately swam ashore and left the ship.

Aisha additionally swam ashore and port police – who referred to as him “Castaway” — instructed him they’d not arrest him so long as he returned to the ship by sundown.

In the end, Aisha was freed after Worldwide Transport Employees’ Federation “provided to have one among its union representatives in Egypt take Mr. Aisha’s place and turn into the authorized guardian of the vessel,” the group mentioned.

In line with the union, the ship had no energy and was coated in bugs and rodents.

Days earlier than Aisha obtained a name from an immigration officer telling him to pack his baggage on April 20, he realized his grandmother had died, in keeping with the Journal.

“I’ll by no means forgive the individuals who saved me right here whereas I misplaced my household, one after the other,” Aisha mentioned.

As Aisha readied to depart the ship for good this month, he mentioned he thought to himself, “I by no means wish to see this rattling ship once more.”

Crew members and the ship’s agent mentioned the vessel was owned by Youssif bin Sanad.

When reached by telephone in Bahrain by the Journal, bin Sanad mentioned he isn’t the proprietor, however the former business supervisor for a now-bankrupt firm, Tylos Delivery & Marine Providers, whose homeowners he declined to establish.

El Alla, the ship’s agent, instructed the Wall Avenue Journal he by no means understood why the proprietor of a number of multimillion-dollar ships would abandon one over such a comparatively small debt.


He mentioned bin Sanad has not returned his calls since late 2019.

“He vanished,” mentioned El Alla.

This story first appeared within the New York Submit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *