A SHIP’S crew who have been stranded on the Tyne for seven weeks are on their way home.
The Panama-registered Donald Duckling has been held at the port since the middle of November by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
The action was taken when it was found to be in an “appalling state of repair”, and after its 18-strong crew said they had been forced to fish off the side of the boat when their food ran out.
The largely-Filipino crew spent Christmas onboard the vessel, which was docked at the north side of the river.
But apart from the ship’s captain and chief engineer, all the crew flew home yesterday.
They have been repatriated by seafarers’ welfare organisation the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), which has been providing practical support to the crew of the vessel since it was arrested on November 12.
AoS Tyne port chaplain Paul Atkinson said: “There were mixed emotions. Obviously, the crew are delighted to be going home to their families, but they have yet to receive their outstanding wages.”
He added AoS was also able to secure free passage home for the ship’s Romanian captain, who is expected to be repatriated next week.
The ship’s 11 Filipino crew members were paid for October and November and partially for December, as were the Romanian crew.
The Donald Duckling arrived at Tyne Port with 15 days of provisions, but faulty refrigeration meant they lasted only two to three days.
Since then AoS and other port-based agencies such as the Mission to Seafarers have been providing food and drinking water to the crew with the help of the local community, who have been very supportive.
“We will continue to assist the remaining crew in any way we can until all are safely repatriated,” said Mr Atkinson.