The crew of an Indian ship whose boat has been detained in Aberdeen Harbour for more than a year look set to finally return home.
The Malaviya Seven was detained twice last year under merchant shopping laws after it emerged that 15 crew members had not been paid for four months.
Yesterday, a major breakthrough in the case was reached when Aberdeen Sheriff Court issued a warrant for the sale of the offshore vessel in order for the wages to be paid.
The case has been led by International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) who arrested the ship in March before Maritime and Coastguard Agency moved in to detain it.
Following the court decision, it is expected that wages will be recouped from proceeds of the sale which will allow the men to finally leave Scotland.
A spokesman for ITF said: “Today the court issued the sale order and the vessel will be sold by auction to recover the wages owed to the current and previous crew in around six weeks time .
“This is a further step towards the aim of having crew members back home with their families – and with the money that is owed to them.”
The ship’s owners, GOL Offshore, is now in liquidation with a writ earlier issued to stop the Malaviya Seven from leaving Aberdeen.
TheITF believes the crew are now owed more than £600,000 in total.
The union has been supplying the crew with food and water with support also given by seafaring organisations and the Aberdeen community.
The crew has remained largely on-board amid fears they would not be paid if they disembarked, with time passed playing cricket on deck.
Malaviya Seven chief officer Bamadev Swain is one of those still on board the ship.
Mr Swain earlier said: “My daughter keeps asking every now and then: ‘When is papa coming back?’
“It’s very difficult.”
The crew were recently guests of honour at Peterhead FC for an Irn-Bru Cup game with Annan Athletic at Balmoor Stadium, after the club learned of their plight.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard there has already been interest in the vessel, which will be advertised for sale around the world.
Aberdeen Harbour Board will request first rights to any funds to pay harbour dues after the crew is paid.