Indian sailors who were trapped in the north-east for more than a year due to unpaid wages have finally received the £600,000-plus they were owed.
A routine inspection in June 2016 found the 12 seafarers on board the Malaviya Seven offshore supply vessel had not been paid in months, and the ship was forbidden from leaving Aberdeen Harbour.
In the months that followed, the men were unable to return to their families in Mumbai over fears they could forfeit the money owed to them by the ship’s owners GOL Offshore, an Indian company in liquidation.
But last September, permission was finally granted by Aberdeen Sheriff Court to sell the vessel and recoup the men’s wages, and the Malaviya Seven was auctioned off in November.
And now, almost two years since their last pay day, the dozen crew finally have their cash in their pockets.
Captain Ashish Prabhakar was one of the last to leave the ship.
Speaking from his home in Mumbai, he said: “It was well worth staying put and fighting it out.
“It is a big relief. The celebrations would have been perfect with the Malaviya Seven guys around together but for the moment, it will suffice with quiet prayers and thanks to God.”
Doug Duncan, regional port chaplain for the Apostleship of the Sea , was one of the many people at Aberdeen Harbour who supported the crew throughout their hardship, alongside the International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF).
He said: “It’s absolutely tremendous news, and I couldn’t be happier for the guys.
“It was a very long, hard battle that they fought, and even though some of them were sceptical about whether or not they would ever get paid, they persevered and it has all been worth it.
“It’s the end of a nightmare; hopefully we will never see something like this again in Aberdeen.”
Rahul Sharma, 27, was second officer on the vessel.
He plans on using some of his long-overdue wages at a special reunion party with friends and family in his home town, Mumbai.
Mr Sharma said: “We have finally all been paid now. It’s finally all resolved, and a big relief for us.
“We really appreciate this great deed, and all of the help from the ITF.”