The crew of the tanker Heroic Idun was expected to finally return to their home countries starting today after 10 months of detention in a dispute with Nigeria. Flights from South Africa to their home countries were coming approximately two weeks after they were released in Nigeria and after a brief stopover in Cape Town.
The international maritime charity Sailors’ Society provided the update and was assisting with counseling and support for the seafarers after their long ordeal. Members of the charities Crisis Response Network were on hand in Cape Town to provide pastoral and psychosocial support as the crewmembers adapt to freedom and prepare to return to their family and friends.
The crew arrived in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on June 7 and was transferred into hotels to prepare for their flights home. The crew consists of 16 Indians, eight Sri Lankans, one Polish, and one Filipino. Today, the charity posted pictures of crewmembers in the airport for their flights home.
“Though the crew were in good heart, delighted to be free and heading home, they had clearly undergone a traumatic and drawn-out ordeal,” said Boet van Schalkwyk, a member of the charity’s crisis team.
Members of the Sailors’ Society crisis team supported the crew and seeing them off in the airport today (Sailors’ Society)
The tanker Herodic Idun was chased by the Nigerians who alleged that it had illegally loaded oil in August 2022. The ship was initially detained in Equatorial Guinean and despite pleas from the international community returned to Nigeria late last year for the crew to stand trial. A settlement was reached in April for the vessel’s owners to pay a fine and publicly apologize to Nigeria.
The charity reports its teams were in contact with the 26 crewmembers during their long ordeal. Sailors’ Society CEO Sara Baade said the situation had been especially difficult for the seafarers when their phones were confiscated by the Nigerian authorities. “They particularly wanted us to support their families back in India until they were released.”
The charity reports it provided support to the families including those in Kochin, Mumbai, and Bhubaneswar areas of India. They reported supporting the families as the trial dates were postponed and through each development in the case.
The tanker is now sailing to Port Elizabeth, South Africa where it is due to arrive on June 10.