Stranded crew members of a ship that has been banned from leaving the Tyne for seven weeks are finally on their way home.
The Donald Duckling is currently detained in North Shields by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The vessel was held in mid November after mechanical problems with the main and auxiliary engines became known and safety concerns were raised.
The 18-strong crew of Filipino and Romanian seafarers were trapped on the cargo ship and spent Christmas on board.
Now, apart from the boat’s captain and chief engineer, all the crew have been flown home.
The Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) charity had been providing practical support to the crew since November 12.
AoS Tyne port chaplain Paul Atkinson said: “There were mixed emotions. Obviously, the crew are delighted to be going home to their families but they have yet to receive their outstanding wages.
“We will continue to assist the remaining crew in any way we can until all are safely repatriated.”
He also said the organisation was able to secure free passage home for the ship’s Romanian captain, who is expected to be repatriated next week.