The International Transport Workers Federation says cases of shipowners abandoning sailors on cargo ships are on the rise —but few cases are as egregious as that of Mohammed Aisha. The Syrian man has finally returned home after four years stranded on the Bahrain-flagged MV Aman, which was detained by Egyptian authorities in 2017, the BBC reports. The ship's captain was ashore when it was detained for having expired safety certificates and a court declared Aisha, its first officer, to be its legal guardian. With the ship's owners in financial trouble, a lonely yearslong ordeal followed as other sailors left the ship, which had no power due to a lack of fuel. He says the lowest point came in 2018, when his mother died while he was trapped on the ship, legally obliged to stay aboard.
Aisha says a storm that blew the ship off its anchorage last year actually improved his situation, as it ran aground in a place where he could swim to shore to buy food and water every few days—though he almost drowned on more than one occasion. The ITF says it offered to pay to have Aisha, whose health dramatically declined during the ordeal flown home, but Egyptian authorities had seized his passport and refused to cooperate, Marine Insight reported last month. "This has to be one of the worst cases we’ve come across," a federation official said. "It’ is outrageous that after four years of serving as the legal fall guy for this ship, that the Egyptian port authorities still aren’t doing anything." After he was finally on the way home, Aisha told the BBC he was relieved and overjoyed to be returning to his family, but he still plans to return to his seafaring career. (Read more shipping stories.)