History of Labor Violations Haunt Dali’s Owners

Ships owned by Grace Ocean have been cited for labor violations, including underpaying and holding crew members past their contracts. The company's opaque ownership structure makes accountability difficult. The Dali, which crashed into the Key Bridge, had Indian crew members onboard. Inspections have found deficiencies in the vessel's machinery.
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Ships owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd., the company that owned the container vessel involved in the Key Bridge crash in Baltimore, have been cited for labor violations in recent years. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority found instances of underpaying ship crews and holding crew members onboard beyond their contracts. The authority detained the Western Callao in 2021 after finding crew members had been kept onboard for more than 12 months, well past their nine-month contracts.

Another ship owned by Grace Ocean, the Furness Southern Cross, had 10 seafarers aboard for more than 14 months, which were deemed serious violations of an international convention on maritime labor. The National Transportation Safety Board will examine factors such as crew fatigue to determine the cause of the crash involving the Dali, the Grace-owned container ship.

The opaque nature of global ship-owning makes it difficult to hold ultimate owners accountable for violations. Grace Ocean is owned by Grace Ocean Investment Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands. The company’s ownership structure is designed to maximize opacity and minimize accountability, according to Alexandra Wrage, the president of Trace. The Dali had 22 crew members from India onboard and had a deficiency related to propulsion and auxiliary machinery during an inspection in Chile last year.

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