Sailors abandoned for 43 months on board a tanker off the coast of Umm Al Quwain are finally set to return home after agreeing to a settlement on outstanding salaries.
The five crew, chief engineer Nay Win, second engineers Riasect Ali and Vinay Kumar and ordinary seamen Nirmal Singh Bora and Monchand Shaikh agreed to a payout of $165,000 on Monday.
The men had not been paid since 2018 after the Mt Iba's owner, Alco Shipping Services, ran into financial problems.
Two cheques handed over to the Mission to Seafarers charity were presented on Tuesday, to deliver 50 per cent of what the sailors are owed in wages.
The vessel will be towed to an anchorage point on Tuesday afternoon for possible repairs to be made.
The crew will be taken to Dubai Maritime City where they will wait 15 days for legal work on the sale of the vessel to be completed.
They will then be paid the rest of the money they are owed.
Waqar Ijaz Hasan, the representative of Alco Shipping who agreed to the sale of the vessel to Shark Power Marine Services, said he was relieved the issue was finally resolved.
“This is good news for all of us,” he said.
“We never stopped working to resolve the situation and the crew will now go to the next available port.
“From there they will go home to their families.”
Alco has agreed to cover the cost of repatriating the men to their countries in what will be an emotional family reunion.
Mr Win, from Myanmar, and Mr Ali, from Pakistan, had been on board since July 2017, with the rest of the Indian crew joining the ship in 2018.
The crew was left with little food and short of diesel to run generators for power and air-conditioning and water.
The ordeal appears to be coming to an end with a tugboat preparing to tow the 5,000-tonne vessel clear from sand on Umm Al Quwain public beach on Tuesday at high tide, about midday.
That operation is being funded by the new owner of the tanker that is likely to return to operation.
That may not be a simple process, and could take up to two days depending on how the ship was grounded.
Once at DMC, the crew will be able to process travel documents and undergo PCR testing to enable them to travel back to their countries.
"From the seafarers viewpoint this is a satisfactory outcome," said Andy Bowerman, regional chief of the Mission to Seafarers.
"Seventy per cent is a fair amount considering the state of the company that owned the ship," he said.
“The crew came across on a small boat to the beach to meet with the owner and the new company to sign the agreement on Monday. It was quite emotional for them all.
“There is still a risk for the crew who must stay on board until the vessel is fully repaired.
“The crew were elated that this was finally happening, but they are very close now it is hard for them to believe this is finally happening.
“I don’t think they will quite believe it until they have the money in their hand.”