The first six crew members of an Indian ship which has been marooned the north-east for more than a year due to non-payment of wages will finally fly home to their families in India this week.
The Malaviya Seven offshore supply vessel was detained in Aberdeen Harbour last June after a routine inspection discovered its staff had not been paid in months.
Although the 12 men on board the ship have been desperate to return home to Mumbai ever since, they have not been able to leave the north-east for fears they could lose out on the £613,000 in wages they are owed by Indian firm GOL Offshore, which is now in liquidation.
But last week, a motion was approved by Sheriff William Summers in Aberdeen Civil Court allowing for the sale of the Malaviya Seven at auction to cover the men’s wages.
And now, with the end of their troubles in sight, half of the crew will be flying home to see their families early tomorrow morning.
Port chaplain Doug Duncan, of the Apostleship of the Sea, has been one of the many people assisting the Indian crew during their year in Aberdeen.
He explained that the six remaining seafarers decided to stay as they were required to keep the vessel ship-shape ahead of the auction, which is expected within weeks.
After the boat is sold, Mr Duncan said the rest of the men will also be taking the first possible flight back to their wives and children in Mumbai.
He said: “It’s been an excellent week, the guys are so excited to finally be able to hug their loved ones again and see them in the flesh.
“It was hard to decide who is getting to go home this week, but we needed six people to stay who were capable of looking after the ships and all the duties that are required.
“So there were certain people that had done their time, but there were also a couple of guys who really had to go home because of personal reasons.
“So one captain has stayed on, the chief officer, the bosun and a couple of the engineers will be here for just a little while longer until this whole mess is finally over.”