China has granted permission for the crew change to the bulk carrier MSC Anastasia which has been waiting to unload coal from Australia, at Tangshan port since last September 2020.
The vessel owned by Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), has been anchored at Tangshan’s Caofeidian port since September 20 with a crew of 16 Indian seafarers on board, one of more than 50 ships that have been stranded as strained trade relations between Canberra and Beijing have worsened in recent months.
“After sustained follow-up by our embassy in Beijing, the Chinese central authorities have conveyed their clearance to the local foreign office in Tangshan and the port authorities for the transfer of the crew of the MV Anastasia,” Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said during his weekly briefing.
In November last year, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) urged the governments of China, India and Australia to collaborate and act immediately to end the impasse over the berthing of a pair of vessels (Jag Anand and Anastasia) carrying coal in Chinese ports, as some of the seafarers had been on board for more than 20 months.
In January, Jag Anand was allowed to leave the port of Jingtang for Japan to change crews.
Shipping companies, shipping associations and seafarers’ unions have been urging the government and relevant maritime parties to resolve the dry bulk standoff off the coast of China that has stranded more than 1,100 seafarers.
AIS data shows that the queue for coal carriers in northern China is finally shortening this week.
This case is one of a recurring pattern in recent months, as it has become all too common at this global pandemic juncture for entire crews to be found aboard their vessels where they work without receiving clear answers about their landing.