Sailors who were stranded onboard a tanker 15 miles off the UAE due to a legal dispute involving the ship owners have been allowed to return home.
A 16-man crew of Indian and Pakistani sailors had been on board the 330-metre MT Zoya 1 vessel awaiting clearance to come ashore, but a legal dispute had left them owed months of unpaid salary.
Crew on board said all money owed to sailors had been paid, and sailors who had been stuck on board have been repatriated. Some had been left on board for more than a year.
“All the problems have been resolved,” said a crew member on board Zoya 1.
“There are no issues left and the second batch of crew will be leaving the vessel soon.
“The salaries have been paid, but there is still crew on board the ship.”
It is understood six crew that had been on-board the vessel, 17km off Sharjah coast, for more than a year have now left Zoya 1.
Charterers Avantgarde Petroleum, part of ECB International, the ship’s owners, has been supporting the men who have also been in contact with the Mission to Seafarers charity that has been providing additional support and advice.
Shipping vessels like MT Zoya 1 are primarily used for long-haul crude-oil transportation from the Arabian Gulf to Europe, Asia and North America, and can cost up to US$120 million (Dh440.8m).
More than 450 can be anchored offshore of the UAE coastline at a time, some awaiting clearance, while others are having crew changeovers or maintenance work.
Disputes that leave vulnerable crew exposed to unscrupulous shipping owners are not uncommon. MT Zoya 1 was not thought to be loaded with cargo at the time of its anchorage off Sharjah.
It has been reported that the Indian Consul-General has stepped in to help repatriate some of the sailors back to their home country, with diplomatic intervention aiding the release of 11 sailors in total from four different ships anchored off Sharjah.
Source Credit: The National