A STRANDED ship that has been detained on the Tyne because of safety concerns could soon be moved to South Shields, it has emerged.
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.
Now it is hoped to move the vessel to the former McNulty yard in South Shields.
That would enable the crew to be closer to the town’s Mission to Seafarers on the Mill Dam – where they have been getting access to internet and telephone services so they can contact their loved ones in their homeland, which was devastated by a typhoon in November.
Diane Erskine, manager at the Mission to Seafarers in South Shields, said: “Where they are docked at the moment, they need radio security clearance from the Port of Tyne in order to leave the vessel. They are pretty isolated.
“If they move the Donald Duckling across the river, the crew will have the Mission close by, and be able to use to the shops in town.
“We’re also planning to get them some bicycles, so they can get about and get some exercise.”
Despite the crew being desperate to return home, the ship’s owner, the Taiwan-based TMT Group, has so far been unable to give the men a date to return.
During Christmas, the local seafaring community rallied to their aid.
Diane said: “The Port of Tyne provided them with food and drink at Christmas and we went across on New Year’s Eve to take over some beer and nibbles, and drop off a karaoke machine and some DVDs.
“We took three of the guys out to do a bit of shopping in Shields, and they used the internet to contact their families back in the Philippines.
“Obviously, they’d rather be back home but they made the best of things.
“They’re so grateful for the support they have had.”
Mike Nicholson, Port of Tyne harbourmaster, said: “We are looking to make alternative lay-by provision for the Donald Duckling.
“It may be possible to berth the ship at the former McNulty quay and we are looking into this”.
Meantime, the long-term future of the Donald Duckling on the Tyne remains uncertain.
At this stage the MCA is unable to give a timescale on how long it could potentially remain on the river, with much depending on how quickly its owners respond to carrying out the repairs required.