The casino cruise ship that brought a sea of troubles—pun intended—in Hong Kong will soon be sold in an auction.
On Tuesday, the city state’s High Court ordered the New Imperial Star to be put up for auction and its proceeds will go towards the unpaid wages of the cruise ship’s 46 crew members, the South China Morning Post reported.
The 12,586-tonne casino ship was used to shuttle Chinese clientele from Hong Kong into international waters where gambling was legal, but the cruise business nosedived in 2015 after Beijing announced its crackdown on corruption and the gambling sector. In October, the ship was detained in the harbor near Kai Tak Cruise Terminal for failing inspections, and that’s where it remained anchored until this day.
The ship’s 46 crew workers—20 from Ukraine, 18 from Myanmar, and eight from China—were stranded on board since November because the ship’s owner, Arising International Holdings, failed to pay their wages or airfares.
One of the Ukrainian workers described the situation inside the moored ship, telling Reuters about the miserable living conditions: “There’s one egg per crew member per day. No sausages, no bacon, no milk, no nothing.”
Another crew member told SCMP: “Almost every day there is a war over everything, from a plate of rice to even a cigarette. Because they don’t have money, people are nervous when they don’t know anything about tomorrow.”
The crew is technically free to leave the ship and are literally within sight of land, but they are unwilling to budge until the ship owner pays their wages.
Now, it’ll be only a matter of time before the crew gets their due. The high court appointed two appraisers to evaluate the ship before it will be put up for auction, and according to the report, the crew will get their wages within 60 days after the ship has been sold.
The troubled ship is expected to fetch at least USD2 million “even if it was sold for scrap.”