‘Murder ship’ owners in dark over crew deaths
THE Japanese owners of the Sage Sagittarius, dubbed the "murder ship" after a string of on-board deaths in Australian waters, admit to having "no idea" how they happened.
This is despite the company doing its own investigation, the result of which it is yet to make public.
Cargo ship owners NYK Line and subsidiary Hachiuma Steamship hit headlines last week after a seafarer advocate and shipping expert questioned why there were still no results from a 16-month investigation by Australian authorities.
Filipino ship-worker Cesar Llanto, disappeared overboard on August 30, 2012 - his remains were never found.
On September 14, fellow seafarer Hector Collado was killed after suffering a fatal fall while the Sage Sagittarius was moored at the Port of Newcastle.
The captain at the time of the deaths quit after the incident, a decision Hachiuma spokesman Naoya Miyasaka said was made "without consultation".
The two deaths are now being examined by the NSW Coroner after investigations by the Australian Federal and NSW police.
Japanese superintendent Kosaku Monji joined the crew in Newcastle to ensure the welfare of the Sage Sagittarius workers.
He was killed on October 6 after falling into conveyor belt machinery while the ship was moored at a Japanese port.
Mr Monji's death is being investigated by Japanese authorities. Following the third death, the International Transport Workers Federation labelled the Sage Sagittarius a "death or murder ship".
The Sage Sagittarius is an enormous coal carrier, almost identical to the merchant ships loaded at ports along Australia's coastline including those in
Bundaberg, Gladstone, Mackay and Brisbane.
In a statement, Mr Miyasaka said the company still could not explain the deaths.
"Despite a full investigation and full cooperation with the appropriate authorities on both these tragedies, we have no idea as to how they occurred as there were no eye witness accounts of either event," Mr Miyasaka said. "At the time, we offered all our sympathies to the families of our seafarers who lost their lives and provided them with our support.
"Like them, we would like to see closure on these incidents and therefore are waiting for the final report from the authorities."
AFP confirms Hachiuma is assisting the investigation.
ITF Australia coordinator Dean Summers asked why with only 20 crew on a ship, two dead and everyone cooperating, was there still no result?
"If everyone is cooperating, how come (authorities) can't wade through 18 suspects and work out what happened, or at least have some idea?"
Name: Sage Sagittarius
Owner: NYK Line/Hachiuma Steamship
Type: Bulk carrier (coal)
Weight when loaded: 105,708t
Location: Currently in Indonesian waters