Intern found dead in Turkish ship after cleaning chemical residue

19 year old engineering student Mustafa Koç was found dead in the ship GANNET S, reported Turkish daily BirGün. Koç was doing his summer internship at the vessel.

Piri Reis University Department of Maritime Transportation and Management Engineering freshman Mustafa Koç lost his life during his internship at the vessel GANNET S, operated by Chemfleet Ship Management, after a series of negligent actions by the company. 

After leaving Istanbul for India on the GANNET S, Mustafa Koç was forced to work 20-hour shifts and clean tanks with chemical residue.

Koç had to stay in a hotel arranged by the company under unhygienic conditions when the vessel was unable to dock due to a storm. The 19 year old engineering freshman stayed in the hotel for 11 days, and after he was able to board the vessel again headed out to Djibouti on June 22.

Koç was sleeping at the ship’s infirmary because guards were staying in his cabin as he worked 20-hour shifts for 18 days. The infirmary had no air conditioning and temperatures inside reached 45 degrees Celsius.

The ship’s chief officer forced Koç to clean a tank with chemical residue, which interns are not allowed to do. The tank was 20 metres deep, with an opening of 1 metre, and temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius inside. Most of his tasks were of a similar nature.

At 8 a.m. on July 11, he was discovered dead in the room he was sleeping in when the crew went to wake him up as he didn’t show up for his shift in the Djibouti Port at 4 a.m.

The autopsy conducted in Djibouti showed severe lung infection as the cause of death. Mustafa Koç had gone through a full physical examination before starting his internship, and had all his shots complete. He had no previous health issues.

Mustafa Koç’s brother İsmail Koç posted on his Twitter account and said Mustafa lost his life due to severe negligence. He said Mustafa’s working conditions didn’t comply with MLC standards but such treatment was fairly commonplace in Turkish maritime companies. The family is calling for public awareness so such incidents don’t happen again.