Sage Sagittarius, the coal carrier that’s been under investigation by the authorities of the Australian government for the suspicious deaths of its two Filipino employees, has yet again attracted more scrutiny about its seaworthiness in the Australian waters.
In October of the current year, the ITF or the International Transport Federation visited the Sage Sagittarius, a Japanese coal carrier, the result of which was the discovery of the facts that their safety equipment and switches were either inoperable or in bad repair.
Dean Summers, the International Transport Federation Australia’s coordinator, mentioned his experience on having been aboard the Japanese vessel several times and one of those was with the NSW coroner to look into the tree deaths of workers on board the said vessel.
Summers reported that while he was on board the carrier, he couldn’t help but notice a wide range of the carrier’s safety equipment all being rusted up, inoperable, and over.
Summers explained that the self-discharging ship is capable of offloading cargo without the use of shore-based cranes. However, the safety-cut-off switches that the ship uses to control the onboard loading machinery were likewise completely rusted over, making them inoperable in case of an emergency or other relevant situations where its use would be a big help.
Summers further noted that lifeboats and lifesaving RFDs did not seem to have functional switches so they could be automatically deployed during an emergency or some capsizing event. The International Transport Federation Australia’s coordinator reported that he has already made the initiative of informing the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, whom he expects will conduct a full inspection of the entire ship.
During the visit, Summers said that he felt he was being gagged by the owners, making him unable to make the observations while aboard the vessel. Since August 30, 2012, three suspicious deaths have already occurred on the Japanese coal carrier, when its cook Cesar Llanto disappeared overboard at around 800km north of the Cairns region.
Fifteen days later, a maritime worker with 30 years of experience, Chief Engineer Hector Collado was reported to have fell 10 metres to his death when the ship was reported to have been docked at Newcastle.
A worker named Monji was also reported to have been crushed to his death by a conveyor machine another 22 days later when the vessel was in Japanese waters.
Summers explained that the maritime transport department of the country’s mining industry was one aspect that is not getting enough attention from mining companies and relevant authoritative organisations or general awareness of the public.
He added that the mining industry takes very minimal responsibility for these cargoes and their activities as soon as they at the wharf. He expressed his concern on the fact that the handling part of the shipping industry is very susceptible to violations of maritime workers and seafarers’ rights especially during those seasons when there is high demand for shipping.
He is worried that even after what he has seen on the Sage and the three murders on the vessel were uninvestigated and unnoticed had they not protested and made the facts known to the press and the public.