Investigation into "murder ship" deaths condemned

THE former Federal Minister responsible for widespread change to the international shipping trade has condemned an Australian investigation into two deaths aboard a cargo carrier dubbed "the murder ship".

Two Filipino seafarers Cesar Llanto and Hector Collado were killed aboard the Japanese-owned Sage Sagittarius along Australia's east coast in late 2012, within weeks of each other.

APN reported this week seafarer advocate Dean Summers was frustrated by the prolonged silence from authorities regarding the carrier he named the death or murder ship.

Hawke-era minister Peter Morris said he feared after 16 months of investigations, those responsible would feel above the law.

"Whatever was going on on that ship, whether it's still going on. Who knows?" he said.

"We have had three deaths on a ship within weeks of each other and here we are, almost 18 months later and nothing has effectively been done."

Investigations by the New South Wales Police and Australian Federal Police continue, although each declined to provide an update as they prepare a brief for the NSW Coroner.

A third death - Japanese superintendent Kosaku Monji - occurred at a port in southern Japan after Mr Monji joined the ship in Australia to ensure the crew's safety.Japanese authorities are investigating the incident.

As a former transport minister and renowned expert in the shipping industry, the sharp criticism from Mr Morris puts renewed pressure on Australia's investigators.

He led the Federal Ships of Shame inquiry in 1992, and later the International Commission on Shipping which published the landmark Ships, Slaves and Competition report in 2001.

The Ships, Slaves and Competition report found "for thousands of today's international seafarers, life at sea is modern slavery and their work place is a slave ship".

Mr Morris said since then "ships have improved but crews seem to have seen little difference at all".

"Our trade should not be dependent on exploitation of seafarers and possible loss of life of seafarers," he said.

Mr Morris said the Philippine workers on these ships in Australian waters were hearing a dangerous message knowing no charges had been laid.

"(Seafarers) can be fairly confident that those responsible and the beneficiaries of their activities are unlikely to be brought to account."

"When will these people be brought to account, when will the families get justice?"

Foreign seafarers crew the enormous bulk carrier ships and tankers that use major ports in Queensland and New South Wales.

These include those near Mackay, Gladstone, and Bundaberg in Queensland and Newcastle in NSW.

A spokesman for ship owners NYK Line said the company was cooperating with authorities.


  • Name: Sage Sagittarius
  • Owner: NYK Line (Japan)
  • Built: 2001
  • Type: Bulk carrier (coal)
  • Length: 234m
  • Weight when loaded: 105,708t
  • Location: Currently in Philippine waters

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