Justin Kuruvila, a 28 year-old crew-member from Kottayam in India’s state of Kerala has went missing onboard Stream Atlantic, a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker ship, which was on its way from the Durban Port in South Africa to New York Port in the United States.
Justin served as the assistant cook onboard the 2019-built vessel, and reportedly went missing from 7th February, when the vessel was in the Atlantic Ocean and was crossing Durban. Justin has been working on the same ship for the past four years.
With his whereabouts being unknown till now, his family is worried, and no new updates have been received by them till now, except for the confirmation that Justin is still missing. The family has tried to seek help the local police and have filed a complaint too. They have also approached India’s Ministry of External Affairs, reported the country’s local media.
Filing the complaint in a local police station, Justin’s family alleged that the company provided the family with no information about Justin’s disappearance until they contacted the company, and finally received a mail on 10th February. The family mentioned that Justin contacted them everyday through WhatsApp calls, and that they stopped receiving his calls from 7th February. When his mother tried reaching out to him, the calls went unanswered. It was during this time that the family started to panic and got in touch the recruiting agency, only to hear that Justin is missing.
Arjun, who happens to be a colleague of Justin and a native of Kottayam too, called up the grieving family after they contacted the company and mentioned that he met Justin on 7th February and he seemed to be happy back then. Justin also told him that he would be present for his duty but never showed up. Arjun mentioned that he started looking out for Justin but was unable to find him. After the incident, the vessel stopped for about 24 hours to look for Justin but he could be found, mentioned Arjun.
Notably, an officer sailing onboard the vessel with Justin tried to wake him up at about 4 PM (local time) when he mentioned that he was not feeling okay, and the officer left after that. But when he returned to check in at around 6 PM, Justin was nowhere to be found.
The vessel anchored in the Atlantic Ocean for three days to look for Justin, but all of it went in vain. An investigation is underway, in line with standard procedures. Relevant authorities including Indian national consulates, the country’s Directorate General of Shipping and the vessel’s flag state are also looking into the incident.
The state’s former Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy and other politicians have visited the family and have guaranteed their support.
Stream Atlantic, the 19,998 t DWT vessel is currently sailing to its destination, at a speed of approximately 13.9 to 18.9 knots, and is expected to reach the New York Port by 25th February, 2022.