An Indian ship with 23 crew members on board has been allowed to leave China’s Jingtang port after unsuccessfully waiting for more than six months for clearance to offload its cargo, Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd., which operates the ship, said.
The bulk carrier is set to leave for Japan’s Chiba port today, where Mumbai-based Great Eastern’s back-up crew has been waiting to take over, the company’s spokeswoman Anjali Kumar said by phone. Arrangements have been made for the stranded seafarers to fly back to India, she said.
Indian-flagged Jag Anand, loaded with Australian coal, arrived at Jingtang in mid-June. By November, at least 21 bulk carriers with almost 400 crew members were queuing up at the Chinese port, roughly 230 kilometers east of Beijing.
The deadlock played in the backdrop of a diplomatic spat between China and Australia that was escalating into a trade war, China blacklisting a range of Australian commodities from coal to lobsters for imports. While the vessels remained anchored, a humanitarian crisis was unfolding, as the port authorities restricted movement of the crew members, citing Covid rules.
“We are still waiting for instructions from the charterer about the cargo,” Great Eastern’s Kumar said. “Right now, our top priority is to help our crew members reach home. We have all the permissions needed for that.”