The end is now in sight for the marooned crew of an offshore supply vessel from India who have been stuck in Aberdeen harbour for the past year due to non-payment of wages.
The seafarers of the Malaviya Seven vessel have been trapped in the north-east since last June when a routine inspection revealed they had not been paid for several months.
Although they are desperate to return to their families in Mumbai, they have been unable to leave Aberdeen for fear they could forfeit around $800,000 US dollars (£613,000) of wages they are owed by Indian company GOL offshore, which is now in the process of liquidation.
Since they were first stranded, the 12 men have been involved in an ongoing legal battle for the right to sell the boat to recoup their pay.
And yesterday, at Aberdeen Civil Court, they breathed a sigh of relief when Sheriff William Summers approved a motion for the Malaviya Seven to be sold at auction.
The sale will be advertised in advance and overseen by a sheriff clerk.
After leaving the court house yesterday, the crew returned to their boat to celebrate the good news, but ship captain Ashish Prabhakar said there are still a few weeks to go before the first of his crew will be able to go home.
He added: “Today has been really positive, this news means that some of us can go home soon and the solution is on the way.
“We’re going to be able to get some of the crew home as soon as we can, but it all depends on how fast the process goes.
“We’re all very happy that this is nearly at an end. The first thing I’m going to go when I go home is hug my family and spend some quality time – as well as checking my bank balance.”
Doug Duncan, regional port chaplain for the Apostleship of the Sea in Aberdeen has been one of the many people at Aberdeen Harbour supporting the crew throughout their hardship.
He said: “I’m very pleased with the decision of the court.
“It’s still a way to go before the end though, although the first guys could be going home very soon, possibly within weeks, it’s more than likely to take even as much as 10 weeks before everyone can finally go home.”