THE 23 Indian crew who have been held up on board the capesize bulk carrier, Jag Anand, for some 210 days at Jintang port in North China will be able to get off the ship by the middle of the week when it reaches the Japanese port of Chiba.

The service contracts of all crew on board have long expired, with two officers completing more than 19 months; some of the other crew members are sailing for more than 15 months. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ship’s crew could not be signed off on her previous voyages.

Seafarers can work for a maximum period of 12 months on board ships under international treaties, reports The Hindu Business Line of Mumbai .

Foreign crew members are not allowed to sign off in China, nor are they allowed to go ashore. Only in case of a specified medical emergency such as heart attack or a serious accident on board a crew member can be taken ashore, that too after certfication by a doctor.

The 180,000-tonne bulk-carrier Jag Anand, owned by Great Eastern Shipping Co Ltd and India’s biggest private fleet owner, got caught in the trade war between China and Australia when it arrived at the anchorage of Jintang port on June 13 to discharge some 170,000 tonnes of coking coal loaded from Australia.

Relations between Australia and China have soured in recent months and the ship has been waiting at anchorage ever since and the delay in berthing has been attributed to lack of import clearance by the Chinese Customs.

The Great Eastern Shipping had time-chartered the ship to commodity giant Cargill, Inc for a year, who in turn had rented the ship to a Chinese entity to ship the coal from Australia.