HOPES are rising that the future of a cargo vessel detained at the Port of Tyne for eight months could soon be resolved – after it was put up for sale.
The Panama-registered Donald Duckling has been berthed at the former McNulty yard in South Shields since January this year.
Previously, it had been detained at the Northumbrian Quay on the north of the river from the the middle of last November by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), 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 returned to their homeland at the turn of the year – were forced to fish off the side of the boat for food after their supplies ran out.
The vessel has remained in a state of limbo ever since with its Taiwanese owner, TMT Shipping, failing to carry out any of the repairs required.
Now it has emerged that the Admiralty Court of England – the body which exercises justice in marine disputes – has stepped in and been granted an order to sell the vessel by tender.
A spokesman for the Port of Tyne said: “We can confirm that the cargo vessel Donald Duckling, presently berthed at the former McNulty yard, remains detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
“The vessel is under the arrest of the Admiralty Court in the care and custody of the Admiralty Marshall. The Admiralty Court has granted an order of sale of the vessel by tender.”
The closing date for bids passed earlier this week.
If a successful tender is identified, the necessary repairs would need to be carried out before the Duckling can leave the river.
Before its arrival on the Tyne, the Duckling had previously been detained for 121 days in Gibraltar last year, after 21 safety deficiencies were discovered by port state control officers.
It had arrived at Port of Tyne to load a cargo of scrap metal bound for Korea 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 at South Shields, 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 International Transport Workers’ Federation inspector Tommy Malloy branding it a “Mickey Mouse operation”.