The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Home beckons forlorn crew

Haldia, May 17: Yesterday, it was the strain of saving a sinking ship. Today, a different kind of tension brewed in the captain’s mind — how soon he could get his crew back home.

Though the rescued sailors of the Sigitika Biru looked relaxed in their white sweatshirts and sky-blue trousers as they smoked and lounged on deckchairs at the Seafarers’ Guest House in the Haldia Port Trust complex, Captain Teguh Supriyanto was a tense man.

“I am under a lot of pressure,” he said, cutting short questions on the ordeal he and his men went through. “I cannot waste time recalling what we did to try and save my ship the whole of Thursday night. I have to get my crew back home.”

Supriyanto and the 21 crew members were brought here by a rescue vessel last evening after the captain decided to abandon the ship early in the morning. The Indonesian cargo vessel, which developed a leak, ran aground at the mouth of the Hooghly, about 120 km from here.

The 22-member crew underwent a medical check-up that took several hours last night before being put through Customs formalities as well.

“Money is a big problem and I have to make all arrangements from here. It is not possible for me talk to you,” Supriyanto said before dashing off.

Chief officer Henro Sisuanto said that more publicity about the incident would mean anxious families back home.

“We have not yet been able to talk to all our families and hence there is quite a lot of tension among us,” Sisuanto said. “Please try to understand our state of mind.”

Second officer Endy Pananringy said the crew has been sailing around the world for the last six months.

“We never knew we would have such an experience,” he said, adding that most of them were from in and around Jakarta. About Thursday night, Pananringy said their main concern was pumping out the water to keep the sinking vessel afloat.

Captain D. Basu, who represents Parekh Marine Agency, the agents of the company that owns the ill-fated Sigitika Biru, said he was arranging all help for the stranded crew.

“I have been instructed by my head office to make every arrangement for the crew like money and other essentials and necessities as well as SIM cards for the captain’s mobile phone,” Basu said.

According to sources at Haldia Port Trust, the ship’s owners have been contacted and a fax message was due from them.

“We are waiting for the company to initiate insurance formalities and make arrangements to transport the crew out of the country,” said a senior officer of the port trust.

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