India on Thursday said authorities in China have given clearance for crew change for 16 stranded Indian sailors on board a cargo vessel that has been on an anchorage near the Chinese port of Caofeidian since September.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, at a media briefing, said he was hopeful that the crew change can be effected at the earliest.

“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 port authorities for the transfer of crew of MV Anastasia,” he said.

Srivastava said this information has also been shared with the shipping company concerned.

“The shipping company”s agent, we understand, has submitted a request to the local port authorities and is coordinating with them on the modalities for crew change at Caofeidian port. We hope the crew change can now be effected at the earliest,” he said.

MV Anastasia has been on the anchorage near Caofeidian port since September 20. Another cargo vessel, MV Jag Anand, with 23 Indian sailors, was also on the anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13.

Last month, China allowed the ship to go for the crew change. Citing coronavirus-related restrictions, Chinese authorities had not allowed the ships to either dock or go for a crew change.