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Stranded Malaviya Twenty sailors thank locals as end of captivity looks to be in sight 

Kieran Lynch
kieran.lynch@archant.co.uk
klyncho
22 January, 2017

malaviya 20b

Five of the 12 Malaviya Twenty sailors who are hoping to return home to India soon

Stranded sailors of the Malaviya Twenty have thanked the people of Great Yarmouth for their support during their stay in the town

 

The Indian-owned offshore supply vessel arrived in the town in June, but financial issues have meant its crew are unpaid since July, and are unable to return home

However the 12-strong crew’s captivity is scheduled to come to an end after an Indian bank agreed to settle £320,000 in unpaid wages, which will allow them to return home

Saurabh Saigal, from the city of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh has not seen his family in more than eight months

The ship handling training officer, who has a wife and two children said: “We have been here so long. The wait we’ve heard is nearly over. Hopefully it’s just the case of flights being booked but we’re totally sure yet when we are going to leave

“It has mentally been very difficult. Knowing that we are not being paid our salaries which is affecting our families and not knowing when we are going to leave it has been hard

“All the while we have been taken care of by a few people who have been providing us with water, fuel and basic needs

“The Mission Seafarers, the port chaplain and the local residents have been great and for that we are really grateful”

The crew also wanted to thank the people of Great Yarmouth for the chocolates, toiletries, cards and gifts which were donated to them for Christmas

A routine inspection of the offshore supply vessel Malaviya Twenty found what unions describe as “modern-day slavery” with 16 Indian crew members

There were originally 16 crew members though some have returned due to personal problems back home

For the rest they have spent more than 200 days mostly confined in the confines of the 236 ft long supply ship moored in the River Yare.

As well as carrying out general maintenance of the boat, their days have been spent exchanging WhatsApp messages with their worried families, playing table tennis or wandering over the Haven Bridge to peer at the local cafes and amusements which they can’t afford to use

The Malaviya Twenty was arrested by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in December after months of failing to pay its crew and port fees

The maritime trade union Nautilus International wrote to the government recently to denounce the predicament of Malaviya Twenty as “appaling”