Indian ship ‘Malaviya Twenty’, which has been stranded at a port in Great Yarmouth in the East Anglia region of England since July 2016 after its Indian owners declared bankruptcy, is on the verge of being sold by next week.
Captain Nikesh Rastogi on Wednesday expressed relief at prospect of being able to return to his home and family in Mumbai once the sale process is completed.
“We hope there’s a suitable quote by the 11th (September) when the tenders open and on the 12th we could be enjoying in-flight meals,” Mr Rastogi was quoted by local media as saying.
“It would be a huge sigh of relief. The worst is over… the Marshal has been kind enough to seize the vessel. Once you leave this location…it will hit you that you are finally free,” he said.
Nikesh Rastogi joined the already-marooned boat 18 months ago and has not been paid since late last year, along with his three crew members. They have been stuck aboard the boat, a supply vessel, in the town’s port as they feared it could be deemed a derelict and taken over if they left, meaning they would go unpaid.
“The captain cannot abandon the ship because it will have consequences for his operating licence. He, along with three other crew, are stuck on board and have been undergoing severe hardship,” explained Paul Keenan, inspector with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), who has been involved with the dispute from the start.
The ‘Malaviya Twenty’, estimated to be worth between 700,000 pounds and 800,000 pounds – was “arrested” by the UK’s Admiralty Marshal when the crew’s lawyers from Birketts law firm secured a High Court order last month for its sale.
Creditors have been battling for control of the 4,500-dwt platform supply vessel since its owners, GOL Offshore, went into liquidation in February last year.
A settlement over outstanding wages was agreed in November last year through the ship’s Maritime Labour Convention 2006 protection and indemnity cover, allowing over a dozen other crew members to return home to India.
Great Yarmouth harbour owner Peel Ports said the crew would be paid ahead of the port because the Marshal had seized the vessel on their behalf.
“It should work through quite quickly and then the crew can go home as they deserve to do and get the pay they deserve too,” Peel Ports said.
A sister vessel, Malaviya Seven, was sold last year after being stranded with a crew for over a year in Scotland. Also owned by Mumbai’s GOL Offshore, the proceeds from the ship’s auction had helped pay off the nearly 11 unpaid crew at the time in September last year.