Sailors stranded off UAE coast rescued after more than a year at sea

The crew on board Zoya 1 have been repatriated after their salary disputes were resolved

A financial dispute that left sailors stranded on board a ship anchored off Sharjah has been resolved and the crew have been allowed to return home.

A 16-man crew of Indian and Pakistani sailors had been on board the 330-metre MT Zoya 1 vessel awaiting clearance to come ashore, but a legal dispute had left them owed months of unpaid salary.

Crew on board said all money owed to sailors had been paid, and sailors who had been stuck on board have been repatriated.

“All the problems have been resolved,” said a crew member on board Zoya 1.

“There are no issue left and the second batch of crew will be leaving the vessel soon.

“The salaries have been paid, and there is still crew on board.”

It is understood six crew that had been on-board the vessel, 17km off Sharjah coast, for more than a year have now left Zoya 1.

Ten more are awaiting to be signed off so they can also leave the vessel and be repatriated home.

Charterers Avantgarde Petroleum, part of ECB International, the ship's owners, has been supporting the men who have also been in contact with the Mission to Seafarers charity that has been providing additional support and advice.


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Welfare officers working for the Mission to Seafarers charity said all outstanding wages that were owed to the sailors have now been paid.

One of the officers involved with negotiations with crew on Zoya 1 said it had been a difficult time for the men.

“We have been pushing the company to resolve the matter and to help these men, but it has not been easy,” he said.

“Only six have been signed off so far and left on June 3, but the other ten will be able to leave soon on two shifts.

“We’ll be continuing to follow up with the company.

“The men were well taken care of and given provisions, and because of the help of the Indian embassy and other agencies they were able to sign the crew off.”

The MtS is believed to be assisting at least two other cargo ships facing similar issues anchored off the UAE coast.

Shipping vessels like MT Zoya 1 are primarily used for long-haul crude-oil transportation from the Arabian Gulf to Europe, Asia and North America, and can cost up to US$120 million (Dh440.8m).

MT Zoya 1 was not thought to be loaded with cargo at the time of its anchorage off Sharjah.

The Indian Consul-General stepped in to help repatriate some of the sailors back to their home country, with diplomatic intervention aiding their release.

“The Zoya 1 ship was in the high seas, 11.5 nautical miles from Sharjah,” the consulate’s spokesman said.

“On receipt of distress calls from the crew, we had intervened with the coast guard authorities, Sharjah Port Authority, the ship’s owners ECB International, Dubai authorities and the ship’s agent Aurum Ship Management.

“In the interim, we were in constant touch with the crew. We are glad the issue has been resolved satisfactorily.”