MSC ends “Anastasia” cargo ship ordeal with crew change in Japan
Bulk carrier ANASTASIA’s crew to disembark on 10 February in Japan, before ship resumes service
Following months of repeated appeals by MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company to allow a change of crew on ANASTASIA, a cargo ship which had been stuck off the coast of China since September, MSC has resolved the matter.
MSC, which maintains the vessel and organises its crew, having exhausted all possible options for crew change including efforts at a diplomatic level between Indian and Chinese authorities, was left with no other option but to advise the master of ANASTASIA to make a short hop to Japan on 4 February after already grave concerns for the safety and well-being of the seafarers intensified.
Dozens of ships have been stuck off the coast of China in recent months amid a trade dispute, which has created uncertainty over whether cargo merchants could deliver coal to buyers in China.
MSC tried to convince the chartering and commercial parties in control of the vessel and its cargo to allow a crew change in various locations before it arrived in Chinese waters, and again while it was at anchorage outside the Chinese Port of Caofeidian, although COVID-19 protective measures closed off many options in China which would normally have been available. MSC prioritised the Japanese option as the quickest and most efficient way to provide the necessary relief for the crew and to enable the ship to subsequently continue in service as it may be required by the charterers.
As a result of MSC’s action, 18 seafarers, mostly of Indian nationality, will disembark from ANASTASIA on 10 February 2021 and will undergo thorough medical examinations before being repatriated by MSC to reunite with their families as soon as possible. MSC will continue to monitor their physical and mental health.
The priority now is to get them home. However, they will continue to be subject to applicable COVID-19 precautions as required by authorities in Japan and in their home countries.