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17 Feb 2021

Karen McVeigh, The Guardian (UK)

Crew of oil tanker beached off UAE to go home after four years stranded at sea

The crew of an oil tanker who have not set foot on dry land for nearly four years after being abandoned on board their ship, which later ran aground off the United Arab Emirates, are finally going home to see their families.

The seafarers, who said they experienced “living hell” on board the 5,000-ton MT Iba after the tanker’s owner hit financial problems and stopped paying salaries almost three years ago, have been given a settlement for wages owed to them. They hope to be repatriated in March.

The five-man crew had a brief and emotional trip to dry land to meet with representatives of Alco Shipping, the vessel’s owner, on the beach at Umm Al Quwain, on Monday. Two cheques from a new buyer, Shark Power Marine Services, were handed over to the crew via the Mission to Seafarers charity, which has been negotiating on their behalf. They agreed to accept $165,000 (£119,000) in unpaid wages, around 65% to 70% of the wages they were owed...

The seafarers have agreed to stay on to do essential work on the ship before it is towed to Dubai, where they will wait 15 days for legal work on the sale of the vessel to be completed.

They will then be paid the other half of the money they are owed, and repatriated.