The owner of a casino cruise ship, which is all at sea following a wage dispute with 46 crew members, claims he is the biggest casualty of the nautical tug-of-war. Mr Wong, who identified himself as the representative of Arising International Holdings Ltd, which owns the New Imperial Star, told the Post he had spent HK$20 million to get the vessel through a safety inspection but to no avail – even after a passage of seven months. Wong added the worst case scenario was for the company to declare itself bankrupt and put the ship up for sale. ‘The ship is really a prison’: crew aboard casino vessel detained in Hong Kong speak of dire living conditions, unpaid wages “Our investors are devastated and suffering a great loss,” he said. “We really don’t want to see [bankruptcy] happen because, by that stage, the ship will be sold very cheaply.” The company plans to hire a new shipmaster to help the vessel, which failed an inspection by the Port State Control last November, set sail again. Watch: Crew aboard casino ship detained in Hong Kong haven't been paid for six months and are living in squalid conditions Desperately seeking new investors from Beijing, Wong clarified that Sun Junhao Ltd was the employer of the crew as it rents the ship for casino cruise business. A spokesman for Sun Junhao, however, insisted it was not involved in the owner’s business. The tenant is in dire financial straits as the casino cruise industry has been hit hard by a drastic drop in the number of mainland tourists, as well as Beijing’s crackdown on corruption and the gaming business. The crew on board, of whom 20 were from Ukraine, 18 from Myanmar and eight from the mainland, are planning to apply for legal aid next week and take their employer to a local court for the five-plus months of unpaid wages, ranging from US$1,300 to US$6,500 per month, at a total of about HK$3 million. Ukrainian shipmaster Valeriy Lyzhyn, 63, aboard the ship since last August, said they had been suffering from an unstable supply of water, food and energy. “I feel hopeless … I don’t believe my ship owner. I hope the legal aid can help the crew members,” he said. “My greatest concern is about wages, food and repatriation of the crew members.” Arising International bought the vessel, now registered in the Republic of Palau, for more than HK$100 million in 2012 and later rented it out to Sun Junhao Ltd at a monthly fee of HK$2 million. Wong added that during better times, the daily turnover of the ship could be as high as HK$10 million with a daily attendance of more than 400 passengers, but last year it had dwindled to just a few dozen.