Dorset

Portland detained ferry: Russian crew 'relieved' to go home

Sailors on board the MV Jireh Image copyright Sailors' Society
Image caption The men were stuck at Portland for nearly four weeks

The Russian crew of a ferry detained in Dorset say they were "relieved" to be able to go home after being stranded in the UK without pay.

The Nigerian-registered MV Jireh and its nine crew members were in Portland Port for nearly four weeks.

The vessel, which had been en route to Senegal from Norway, broke down near the port then was detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Seafaring charity the Sailors' Society said the owners had now paid the men.

The last five crew members flew home on Tuesday 24 December.

One crew member, who asked not to be named, said: "I was worried that I would not get paid, and about my family, who were happy that I was safe and well but worried about me, not knowing what would happen.

"Sailors' Society helped all the time with provisions and internet, giving us the ability to communicate with home. Knowing that someone in a foreign land cares about you makes you feel safe."

While in Portland, Sailors' Society chaplain Jonathan Bayliff supplied a phone and wi-fi to allow the men to contact their families.

He also provided a cake for the captain's birthday.

COO Sandra Welch said: "Jonathan has been working tirelessly to support them and make the best of a difficult situation, but it has been a very stressful and uncertain few weeks for them as they have waited to be paid and repatriated."

The charity said 22 deficiencies had been recorded by the MCA when it detained the vessel, which remains in Portland, on 28 November.

Reasons for detention included not complying with "merchant shipping regulations for its direction of travel" and for failing to meet onboard living standards.

The ferry left Rubbestadneset in Norway on 28 October after being sold by its Norwegian owners.

Image caption The ferry, formerly known as Strandebarm, remains detained at Portland

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