Sixteen Indian sailors on board bulk cargo vessel MV Anastasia, who were stranded on Chinese waters for months, will return to the country on February 14, Union Minister of State for Ports and Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday.

“Great start of the day! Our stranded seafarers of MV Anastasia are coming back to India!” Mandaviya said in a tweet. “The crew will sign off from Japan today and will reach India on 14th Feb. And soon will be reunited with their families!”

The return was finalised last week after Beijing agreed India’s request to permit a crew change in the ship. MV Anastasia had anchored at the port of Caofeidian, in China’s Hebei province, on September 20, and was held up there since then as the Chinese authorities did not allow the ship to either dock or go for a crew change, citing coronavirus restrictions. Another vessel, MV Jag Anand, with 23 sailors on board, had anchored at the Jingtang port, also in Hebei, since June 13. However, Jag Anand was allowed a crew change last month.

The foreign ministry had been taking up the matter with Chinese authorities for a while now. Last month, the National Human Rights Commission also took suo motu cognisance of the condition of the stranded sailors and asked the government “to ensure immediate relief”.