NAT 200317 PIC11-1584453480787
Six Indian seafarers of vessel MV Champion, who were desperate for their early sign off due to recent restrictions, are returning to India tonight. Consulate intervened with the owners M/s Sea & Vessel Co. LLC. Image Credit: Indian Consulate

Sharjah: Six Indian seafarers aboard an Iranian vessel, who were stuck in UAE waters due to travel restrictions since March 9, finally reached home on Tuesday.

The Indian Consulate on Monday evening tweeted an image of the six sailors with their travel bags before they left the Khalid Port in Sharjah. Some of them were seen wearing masks.

The mission tweeted that the crew members “who were desperate for their early sign off due to recent restrictions are returning to India tonight.”

“Consulate intervened with the owners of M/s Sea and Vessel Com. LLC. Thanks to M/s Sea and Vessel for their prompt support and cooperation,” the mission added.

Speaking to Gulf News on Tuesday, a spokesperson of the consulate confirmed that the sailors, who were among a crew of 12 on board S.V. Champion flew out between 9.30pm on Monday and 2am on Tuesday.

Three flew to their hometowns in Kerala and one each to Patna, Hyderabad and Punjab.

The remaining crew members including the captain are from Indonesia and are said to be staying put on board.

No issue with salary, food

“They were not stranded without payment or lack of food and water. Their main concern was the recent travel restrictions,” he said.

While three were eligible for signoff, the other three also wished to fly home with them due to the increasing concerns over the spread of the novel Coronavirus, the official said.

However, he said, the supply vessel initially did not get permission to anchor at the port.

“The port didn’t allow them to enter because they came from Iran.”

Due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in Iran, the sailor did not wish to go back there either, the official said.

“There was no shortage of food or bunker like in the usual case of stranded sailors. They just wanted to go home. We approached the company’s CEO and finance manager and they agreed to support the sailors.”

Expressing gratitude

After the intervention of the consulate and the Sharjah Port Authority, he said the vessel was allowed to anchor at Khalid Port and the Indian seafarers finally returned home.

In its reply to the consulate’s tweet, IMF India thanked the mission for its efforts to support seafarers in distress.

IMF India is an association of Indian shipping entrepreneurs, crew managers, maritime training institutions and medical clinics, and participates in policy making for seafarers.

“You are the best friends of Indian Seafarers. Last 3 Years we have seen umpteen cases of Seafarers handled by @cgidubai We salute your work among thousands of Seafarers. You are extension of spirit of Late Smt Sushma Swaraj Ji,” tweeted the association.

In a video posted on social media, one of the Indian crew members from Kerala thanked Sharjah Port Authority officials and Indian businessman V.T. Salim also for helping them.

A press statement said Kerala’s opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala also thanked them for their efforts in sending home the seafarers.