Seamen trapped at South Shields grateful for help over Christmas

The crew of a cargo vessel banned from leaving the River Tyne has had to rely on help from the local community

The Donald Duckling cargo ship is detained at Port of Tyne
The Donald Duckling cargo ship is detained at Port of Tyne

The crew of a ship banned from leaving the River Tyne will be spending Christmas on board as efforts continue to resolve the row.

Staff on the MV Donald Duckling, the subject of a detention order by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, will remain at a berth in South Shields following safety concerns.

Union bosses claim the vessel, which arrived to take a cargo of scrap metal, is a ‘Mickey Mouse operation’.

The vessel was stranded in November when mechanical problems with the main and auxiliary engines became known.

Officials are concerned for the 18-strong crew of Filipino and Romanian seafarers and are helping to look after their welfare while they are trapped on the cargo ship.

Dianne Erskine, welfare officer of the Mission to Seafarers, said the crew were grateful for help from officials and the local community.

She said: “Many people and organisations have been very kind in offering help and the crew is overwhelmed by the generosity and friendship they received.

“They are hoping that things might be resolved soon but at this stage are planning to have a quiet Christmas together with friends from the Philippine community in the North East and other seafarers including some of the crew of the DFDS ferry who may be in the area at this time.

“They’ll be able to talk to their families by phone and it is this sort of support – the extras – that they are most appreciative of and we have been able to provide with the help of donations.

“The crew would just like to say thanks to everyone for their thoughts and good wishes and assure them that, apart from the current uncertainty of their future, they have what they need for the time being.

“The Mission is pleased to be here at the centre in South Shields to be able to help them and all other seafarers away from home all year round and we’d also like to thank everyone for the donations we’ve had that keep us going.”

Several agencies and companies are coming together in an attempt to minimise the impact of the vessel’s detention. They include the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Port of Tyne, the crew’s union representatives, and the Donald Duckling’s owners and charterers.

The Port of Tyne has provided a layby berth and power supplies so the crew can live comfortably. In addition the authority has, through the Mission, made prevision for the crew to buy food, transport, and mobile phone connections.

A detention order had been placed on the bulk carrier in November for a number of mechanical and safety reasons which prevents the vessel from leaving. The order will remain in place until the required improvements are made. The 16-year-old ship had been the subject of previous safety concerns in Gibraltar.

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