Kochi: Twenty-six sailors, including three Keralites, who are onboard the Norwegian oil tanker MT ‘Heroic Idun’ have begun their journey back home. The crew heaved a sigh of relief as the vessel seized by Nigerian authorities set sail from the Port of Bonny early on Sunday after months-long detention.
Cape Town in South Africa will be the first port of call where the tanker is expected to arrive on June 6. The sailors will return to their home countries after reaching Cape Town. It is not known yet when the crew would reach home.
‘Heroic Idun’ commenced its voyage from the Port of Bonny at 5:30 am, Indian Standard Time.
Passports and gadgets such as mobile phone and laptops that were seized by the Nigerian authorities from the sailors were returned by Saturday evening.
Sixteen of the 26 crew members were Indians and three among them Keralites. Others were from Poland, Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Kochi natives Chief Officer Captain Sanu Jose, Milton De Coth, and Kollam native V Vijith are the Keralites among the crew.
The ship would reach South Africa in 10 days, the former said.
The tanker was released after 10 months after the Nigerian authorities had seized it late last year on suspicion of crude oil theft. Reports from the West African country state the crew were released after a court dropped charges against them.
Sailors contact family
The released sailors posted videos thanking the Government of India and all those who had stood by them during their hour of crisis. They also contacted their dear ones back home.
The shipping company has asked the sailors to undergo health check-ups and counselling before returning to their home countries since they had been under detention for a prolonged period of time.
The video that was sent jointly by the Keralite crew said that new sailors had joined them on board.