22 Indian sailors stranded in Singapore eager to return home

Last Updated 18 September 2013, 10:26 IST

Twenty-two Indian sailors stranded in Singapore's waters on board a seized Taiwanese oil tanker since February are desperate to return home.

The sailors, along with a Romanian, have been stranded on the oil carrier 'Fortune Elephant' since February, waiting for three months for its cargo to be unloaded. But the tanker was seized on court order obtained by a Taiwanese bank in May.

The sailors' were allowed into Singapore for three hours last week, when eleven of them sent some funds home, The Straits Times reported today.

The tanker's captain, Ashish N Jha, 33, said the crew's morale was low. While they are not short of food or water, there are "times where they are depressed because they just want to go home," he said.

"We take turns to cheer one another up," Jha added.

"My wife is giving birth in November, and I hope to be home when I become a father," said engineer Infinity K, 33, an Indian national.

The crew members have received their due wages of USD 389,000 from Taiwan's Cathay United Bank, which seized the ship on a Singapore Supreme Court order over more than USD 65 million owned by TMT shipping company.

The 2011-built Marshall Islands-registered tanker is more than three football field longer. The sailors pass their time maintaining the ship, watching television, listening to radio and calling home.

Meanwhile, arrangements are being made for the crew members to return to India, according to a maritime source. Their departure from Singapore could as soon as tomorrow, though timing has not been set as yet, the source said.

It was learnt that three of the sailors have gone home over the weekend, as they were given an early release on compassionate ground.

(Published 18 September 2013, 10:26 IST)

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