Norfolk

Great Yarmouth stranded Malaviya Twenty ship put up for sale

Captain Nikesh Rastogi, 43, from Mumbai, who has been stranded aboard the Indian supply vessel Image copyright PA
Image caption Captain Nikesh Rastogi said he was ready to breathe a huge sigh of relief at the prospect of going back home to India

An Indian-registered ship impounded in an English port for more than two years is finally on the verge of being sold.

The Malaviya Twenty has been stuck in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk since June 2016 due to legal wrangles and is now being sold by the Admiralty Marshal.

Bids for the ship will open on Tuesday, with the proceeds going to pay debts including crew wages and port fees.

Captain Nikesh Rastogi said he would breathe a "huge sigh of relief" at the prospect of going home to Mumbai.

Image caption Captain Nikesh Rastogi said he and his crewmates had not been paid since the end of last year

Capt Rastogi joined the already-marooned boat 18 months ago but has not been paid since late last year, along with his three crew members.

They have been stuck aboard the boat, a supply vessel, in the town's port in the meantime.

The Malaviya Twenty - estimated to be worth between £700,000 and £800,000 - was "arrested" by the Admiralty Marshal when the crew's lawyers secured a High Court order last month. The boat's owners went into liquidation in January.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Capt Rastogi said the "worst was over" after being stuck on the boat for 18 months

"There has to be a certain amount of resilience and fortitude," said Capt Rastogi.

"We hope there's a suitable quote by the 11th when the tenders open and on the 12th we could be enjoying in-flight meals.

"It would be a huge sigh of relief. The worst is over... the Marshal has been kind enough to arrest the vessel.

"Once you leave this location... it will hit you that you are finally free."

Capt Rastogi joked he had been away from India for so long he would have to read up on what his home country was like.

He said he and the crew had stayed on the boat as they feared it could be deemed a derelict and taken over, meaning they would go unpaid.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Malaviya Twenty ship was impounded in Great Yarmouth in June 2016 after bills went unpaid

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has said 33 crew members had been on and off the vessel since October 2015 and not received wages.

The vessel, serving the town's oil and gas industry, was originally detained after the Maritime and Coastguard Agency found the crew and port had not been paid.

Jim Buck, from Great Yarmouth harbour owner Peel Ports, said the crew would be be paid ahead of the port because the Marshal had seized the vessel on their behalf.

"It should work through quite quickly and then the crew can go home as they deserve to do and get the pay they deserve too," he said.

"There should be more than enough money to pay everybody."

Its sister boat, Malaviya Seven, was sold last year after being stranded with a crew for more than a year in Scotland.

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