MEA bid to free remaining sailors from ‘floating jail’ off China coast

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 14

While relief from “floating prisons” is in sight for one batch of Indian seafarers stuck off the coast of China, the Foreign Office is closely coordinating with the Chinese authorities to resolve the humanitarian problem facing more Indian sailors aboard MV Anastasia.

“We are closely coordinating with the Chinese authorities who are finalising the process or SOP to effect crew change at anchorage. As soon as this is received from the Chinese authorities, the company is expected to initiate the process of crew change,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava at a media briefing here on Thursday.

Great Eastern Shipping, the owners of MV Jag Anand, told the Government that it had decided to undertake the crew change in Chiba, Japan, where the ship will disembark 23 crew members and take on their replacement. The disembarking crew will be flown back to their home towns in India from Tokyo.

The released ship was in anchorage since June 13 while MV Anastasia with 18 Indians is still stuck at Caofeidian anchorage since August 3.

MEA said it was continuously following up the issue with Chinese authorities. Last week, Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri had spoken to the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and got early approval for crew change of Indian seafarers aboard two ships.

About six dozen ships carrying Australian coal and manned by foreign seafarers have been waiting outside Chinese ports since June last year. Beijing has refused to let them unload but importers and ship charterers want the ships to wait.

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