After much negotiations, China has finally agreed to release the crew of MV Anastasia who was stranded at the Caofeidian port of China because the Chinese officials denied permission for the unloading of the Australian coal cargo carried by the vessel.
The ship was stuck in China since September 20 and now China has agreed to allow crew change which would release 16 Indian seafarers who were trapped there in dire conditions.
China Approves Crew Change
According to an External Affairs Ministry statement issued on February 4, the Chinese authorities have approved the crew change of 16 Indian sailors of MV Anastasia.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “after sustained follow up by our embassy in Beijing, the Chinese central authorities have conveyed their clearance to the local foreign office in Tangshan and port authorities for the transfer of crew of MV Anastasia”.
Apparently the shipping company’s agent has completed all the modalities for crew change and requested for approval from the local port authorities which hopefully will make crew change possible at the earliest
The seafarers have been serving at sea for more than 18 months and they were living under dire conditions which took a toll on their physical and mental health. One of them even tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrist earlier this year.
At Sea for More than 18 Months
MV Anastasia’s Navigation Officer had even spoken to Indian media outlets asking for mercy from Indian and Chinese authorities.
“My crew, 16 Indian nationals including myself, left in the MV Anastasia vessel carrying Australian coal on 20 July 2020. We reached China on 2 August 2020. Since then, we have been anchored near the Caofeidian Port in China,” he said.
“Though the Chinese authorities state that the reason for this delay is because of COVID protocol, we feel the delay is due to an ongoing trade dispute between China and Australia,” he added.
One of the stranded seamen, Gajanand Tandel said that his 9 month contract became an 18 month prison because of the delay and now his family is worried about his health.
Earlier in January another stranded ship crew of MV Jag Anand returned, providing hope for Anastasia crew. Jag Anand’s crew was mainly Maharashtrians which resulted in several appeals by MPs and MLAs of Maharashtra. Many seafarers and their families have appealed to the Prime Minister to intervene and address the issue.