After much delay, the ship MV Jag Anand with 23 Indian sailors who were stranded in Chinese waters for months due to Australian Coal Cargo ban has finally arrived in Tokyo. The seafarers will fly back to India tonight after they clear COVID procedures.
The Indian sailors were stuck in Jingtang port since June last year. Another group of Indian sailors are still stranded on a foreign ship MV Anastasia with a similar fate. Jag Anand was an Indian ship owned by an Indian company Great Eastern while Anastasia is owned by MSC.
Earlier Indian government officials said that the seafarers on the Indian ship will travel back to India via Japan by January 15. However the ship’s arrival to Japan got delayed.
Caught in Trade War
The China- Australia trade embargo prevented the ship from anchoring in China whereas maritime law didn’t let them abandon the ship without delivering the cargo to the Chinese who purchased it.
“Our seafarers who were doing their job were caught in a political and trade war between Australia and China,” said Abdulgani Serang, the general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India.
The Indian vessel arrived in Tokyo late on Monday which was confirmed by both Serang and the Ship tracking website Marine Traffic
The sailors will be flying to New Delhi from Tokyo tonight after clearing COVID procedures.
After months of negotiations by the Indian government, the vessel was granted passage to Japan last week.
55 Ships Stranded
Serang revealed that more such ships are stranded in Chinese waters due to China-Australia trade relations. Apparently 55 such ships are stranded at sea at the moment, this includes MV Anastasia, an Indian manned foreign vessel anchored at Caofeidian port region from September.
China-Australia relations deteoriated over Australian sanctions on Chinese telecommunications company Huwai for their 5G Network over allegations of snooping. In retaliation China had banned unloading of Australian coal cargo in China. Beijing further extended the embargoes to Australian wine and beef.
Hopeful of Anastasia Crew Rescue
Serang was optimistic of the repatriation of the Anastasia crew as its owner MSC is actively negotiating the matter. Some of these sailors are serving for more than 18months on these ships.
“Sailors including from other nationalities, are in a way held captive, on a floating prison for months on end. This is taking a heavy toll on the mental and physical well-being of the crew,” Serang added.
Earlier Anastasia navigation officer Gaurav Singh had revealed how desperate the sailors are getting and losing their minds, with one of them even trying to commit suicide.
According to an IMO estimate 150,000 crew changes have been done since March 2020 which means about 900,000 seafarers, 450,00 each are still stuck. Approximately 450,000 seafarers are serving beyond their contracts.