SELFLESS locals have been praised for their role in rescuing a stranded ship and caring for its distressed crew who are reportedly “desperate” to be paid and return home.

Nigerian-owned MV Jireh was towed to Portland Port in the early hours of Tuesday last week after suffering a power failure with nine crew members on board.

Bound for Senegal from Norway, the ship got caught up in poor weather conditions but had already been denied entry to ports in the Channel Islands before it travelled to Weymouth. 

Portland Harbour Authority and Portland-based Quest Marine carried out what has been described as a “difficult and daring rescue” shortly after 2am to bring the ship to the port.

As previously reported, Border Force officials boarded the ship on its arrival and it was seized by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) for not achieving full compliance with merchant shipping regulations, for its direction of travel, and failing to meet the MCA’s on-board living standards regulations.

The Russian crew, who are understood to have not yet been paid after two months at sea, have been in the care of the Sailors’ Society seafarers charity alongside the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris). 

US ship HOS Red Rock, which was docked at the same jetty, provided hot food and drink and the crew have been sheltering at the port.

Sandra Welch, chief operating officer and director of programme at the Sailors’ Society, said: “Along with the Stella Maris chaplaincy team, we’re working with the port, Border Force and police and are supporting the crew so that we can try to get them repatriated home.

“They haven’t got any money, so we’ve given them food, a phone and wifi. 

“It’s the only way they’ve been able to make contact with the outside world and let their families know they’re OK. 

“They’re safe and comfortable, but they’re anxious and desperate to be paid so that they can return home, so we’re hoping this can be resolved in the next few days.”

The situation is not uncommon, with many crews finding themselves stranded thousands of miles from home, Mrs Welch explained. 

“Seafarers are often out of sight at sea or in ports, but we depend on them for almost everything we use and buy – most of our Black Friday goods and Christmas gifts would have been transported by sea.”

Jonathan Bayliff, port chaplain for the Sailors’ Society, said: “The Portland Port authority and Quest Marine carried out the daring and difficult rescue of the MV Jireh and have shown tremendous and selfless commitment to the crew of the ship, providing equipment and services with no expectation of any payment or reward; a truly heartening display of kindness.

“Things could have been very different without the generosity and bravery of local people.

“The crew are incredibly grateful for the kindness that has been shown to them.”