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Crew change ordeal for Anastasia set to end in Japan

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The MSC bulker Anastasia, stuck off the coast of China since September, is finally heading to Japan for a crew change after many months of thwarted attempts.

MSC said in a statement that it had “effectively resolved the matter” and avoided a humanitarian crisis onboard the bulker.

“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,” the Geneva headquartered-company said.

The Anastasia was one of dozens of bulkers stranded off Northeast China for months in an effective ban on Australian coal imports by China. MSC said the charterer and sub-charterers were caught in the political and trade uncertainty that resulted.

“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,” the company said.

MSC said the 18 seafarers mostly Indian nationality would disembark the vessel in Japan on 10 February.

“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,” MSC said.