Cadet stranded at sea by shipping firm collapse relieved to be home

Scots students stranded on ship in South China Sea
Ruaridh Hanna (L) Ruaridh Hanna (R)
Scots students stranded on ship in South China Sea Ruaridh Hanna (L) Ruaridh Hanna (R)
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One of four cadets stranded at sea for almost a month is back in the UK.

The group from Clyde Marine Training were on a college placement with South Korean company Hanjin Shipping when the firm hit financial trouble.

They were among thousands of seafarers affected as ports around the world denied Hanjin ships permission to dock after the company filed for bankruptcy.

Their ship, the Liberia-flagged Hanjin Louisiana, finally managed to dock in Singapore on Wednesday.

One of the team, Ruaridh Hanna, from Beauly, Inverness-shire, has already returned to the UK and spoke of his relief as he landed at Heathrow.

The 22-year-old said: “It’s good to be back. The main concern for us all on the ship was just not knowing what was going on and not knowing when we were getting home.

“There was very little in the way of communication from the people we should have been getting information from.

“Every day we would wake up and wonder if we would get some news.

“It’s a month ago today we got word from Hanjin saying do not go into any country’s territorial waters. It didn’t say anything else - it just said wait for further instruction.

“At that point we were drifting off Colombo, Sri Lanka, for nine days. It got to the point where we only had nine days of food left and we were told to take a six-day voyage to Singapore. If something had gone wrong in the Indian Ocean I don’t know what we would have done.

“While we were there we were getting reports of piracy attacks nearby. It was real threat but we took measures to prevent it. Being at anchor there is not a measure any vessel owner would take lightly - you’re a sitting duck.”

Mr Hanna said it was third time lucky for the crew when they put into port at Singapore, with previous attempts to dock at Colombo and Singapore having fallen through.

He said: “We were nervous more than anything and when we finally did put into port it was a really big relief and it was a bigger relief to get off the ship because some ships were being arrested in Singapore.

“If we didn’t get off then a small boat was being organised by the Foreign Office to help us. I’d like to thank everyone here for raising the profile and putting pressure on the company to get something done. Drew Hendry MP and his team have been fantastic and so has our trade union, Nautilus.”

The City of Glasgow College student said he is still planning a career at sea and will be heading off again next month after catching up with family and friends at home.

He said: “This had kind of shaken my faith in the industry as whole but it’s certainly not put me off completing my training and hopefully continuing beyond that.”