The five-headed crew of an oil tanker stranded off the coast of the United Arab Emirates can return home after four years. They have reached an agreement with the new owner, which means that they are still paid out part of their overdue salary, reports The Guardian newspaper.
Since 2017, the crew was at sea. From 2018 onwards, owner Alco Shipping decided not to pay them anymore, due to financial problems. The crew of the MT Iba stayed on board, because that was the only way they would still have a chance to win their money. They could also be arrested because they didnt have the right documents.
The crew have described time since then as a “hell”. Through droppings, they were supplied with water and food. To make it worse, their ship stranded at the beginning of this year. The anchors broke down in heavy weather. The ship went to a 45-degree angle and floated to the coast.
Aid organization Mission to Seafarers then negotiated with owner Alco Shipping. Shark Power Marine Services, the new owner, pays the crew about 70 percent of the salary they are jointly entitled to. Thats an amount of $165,000.
The ship is now being towed to Dubai, where it takes 15 days to complete all legal proceedings. Authorities will assist the crew in obtaining new passports or other necessary travel documents. One of the crew members is from Myanmar and his passport was expired. He also fears that the recent coup détat will make it harder to renew his passport.
It is more common that crews are stuck on their ship after payment problems. According to the United Nations International Maritime Organisation, it is most common that crews are left to their fate with the United Arab Emirates.
is partly because it is one of the busiest sailing areas in the world. There are 20 ports in the Emirates. The Emirates are working on new legislation to allow a ship to be seized and auctioned without the involvement of the old owner.