By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of Ukrainian sailors are now calling the Philadelphia region home. They were stranded on a ship for more than nine months in South Philadelphia.

The group of sailors was supposed to go home the day before the war broke out in Ukraine, but now, they’re calling Philadelphia home for the time being. It’s a moment they didn’t always see coming.

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“We are feeling good,” ship captain Gennadiy Shevchenko said.

The good feeling of finally having a place to call home.

These seven sailors were stranded aboard the Ocean Force cargo ship in South Philadelphia for over nine months, but Wednesday morning, they walked out Customs and Border Patrol as free men.

“The last day was the happiest day of our life,” Shevchenko said.

But as happy as they may be, one of the sailors was doubled over in tears. He’s from Mariupol, which has been devastated by the war. He says he has a wife and child in the city.

The others are also from areas that you may have heard of: Odessa and Donbas.

They worked with immigration officials and the international transport workers to be released from the ship.

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Locals across Philadelphia are now working to make sure they have a place to stay, food and a job.

“Of course, we will actually help them because they are part of our community now,” said Iryna Mazur, honorary consulate of Ukraine, “and even when they were on the ship, the local businesses helped them. They would bring them food. We will take care of them as a community. We will actually provide to take them today with shopping. They have all the basic necessities that they will need.”

“We have local businesses providing housing. As soon as they get employment authorization, they have jobs waiting for them to choose,” said Roman Zhukov, an honorary consulate of Ukraine.

The issue with their last job — on the ship — was the previous owners ran into money problems and couldn’t pay the taxes to enter the United States. The ship was eventually sold.

Eyewitness News was there as it was tugged out to sea Wednesday morning. The sailors were supposed to go home the day before Russian troops invaded Ukraine, but the war left them stranded.

Despite their ordeal, the youngest sailor, just 19 years old, speaking through a translator, says he’s thankful.

“I’m very grateful to receive all the help that we got and regardless of the emotions that the experience, I still am grateful I had this experience in my life,” he said, through an interpreter.

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All of the men said they plan to return to Ukraine when they can. Their release from the ship comes at a special time: Ukrainian Easter is on Sunday.