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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Debt-Ridden Russian Ship Sails Home

PORT STANLEY -- A Russian polar cruise ship detained on the Falkland Islands for three months was allowed to sail home Tuesday although a legal row continues over its owner's debts. The Akademik Ioffe was arrested by Falklands officials in March because its owners, the Academy of Science in Moscow, owed money to German shipyard Rickmers Lloyd. The tourists on board were flown home. International law allows the arrest of a vessel in another country in the event of alleged non-payment of debts. The debt was paid in April, but the vessel was immediately re-arrested when another German firm, Neptun Industrie Rostock, claimed that money was also owed to them. The ship was freed to return home to Russia's Baltic coast port of Kaliningrad despite no settlement of the legal action after the owners paid a Falklands court a security which local media said was around ?250,000 ($385,000). Just before the ship was released, 35 of its crew signed a letter saying they would go on hunger strike to demand to be paid their wages for the last six months and to be allowed home. Conditions on board were harsh. The ship's captain imposed a nightly curfew on the 12 women crew members. One sailor said the ship was "more like a prison than a cruise vessel for the female crew members."