A CARGO ship stranded on the Tyne for eight weeks has finally moved – but only to cross from the north to the south side of the river.
The Panama-registered Donald Duckling is now berthed at the former McNulty yard in South Shields, beside a huge red-coloured rig which has dominated the river’s skyline since the company went into administration two years ago.
The Duckling had been detained at the Northumbrian Quay since the middle of November by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, because of a long list of safety concerns.
The action was taken when it was found to be in an “appalling” state of disrepair.
Its largely Filipino crew – the majority of whom only returned to their homeland last week – were forced to fish off the side of the boat for food after their supplies ran out.
Yesterday, the vessel was pulled across the river by tugs.
The move was necessary to avoid disruption to Port of Tyne operations, with various cruise ships expected to use the Northumbrian Quay from March.
Because its Taiwanese owner TMT Shipping has yet to carry out any of the repairs required, it’s not known how long it will remain at the former yard. But that’s not a matter of concern to residents living just yards from the berthed vessel at West Holborn.
One householder, Vanessa Spowart, 39, said: “It does block views to the dock, but the rig has been outside my home since McNulty went into administration, and that’s much larger.
“I think there’s a lot of sympathy for what the crew have gone through.
“Now that it’s berthed here, hopefully that means they can get on with the job of repairing it.”
The vessel’s captain remains on board after his crew’s repatriation was financed by Nautilus International Transport Workers’ Federation.
The Duckling, meant to be collecting a cargo of scrap to take to Korea, arrived on the Tyne with 15 days of provisions.
However, faulty refrigeration meant they lasted only three days.
The Apostleship of the Seas and other port-based agencies, such as the Mission to Seafarers, provided food and drinking water for the crew, with the help of the local community.
Maritime inspectors said conditions on board the cargo ship were among the worst they had ever seen, with Federation inspector Tommy Molloy branding it a “Mickey Mouse operation”.