Australian authorities are being urged to take advantage of the arrival of the gas tanker Inge Kosan at anchorage off Brisbane to undertake a thorough, independent investigation into the death of a one of the seafarers, whose body washed up on a beach in Vanuatu.
It has been revealed that the Australian energy giant Origin Energy is the long-term charterer of the Inge Kosan, which is contracted to deliver LPG to the company’s import terminals in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji.
The Maritime Union of Australia said the anchoring of the vessel in Australian waters gave local authorities the best opportunity to properly interview the crew and fully investigate how one of the seafarers died.
“There are serious questions that must be answered about how the deceased seafarer died, and how his body came to be washed up on a beach in Vanuatu,” MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said.
“Now that the vessel is anchored in Australian waters, local authorities have the opportunity and obligation to launch a thorough, independent investigation.
“The Inge Kosan was on charter to a major Australian business, it had recently left an Australian port, and it was carrying Australian gas to our Pacific neighbours. It couldn’t be any clearer that Australia has an obligation to get to the bottom of why one of the seafarers died in the subsequent weeks.
“Given the Inge Kosan is one of four vessels in the fleet Origin Energy charters to carry gas around the Australian coast and to their terminals throughout the Asia Pacific region, we are urging the company to offer their full cooperation with an investigation into this tragic death.
“We are also concerned about the safety of the crews onboard the other three tankers in the Origin fleet, who are undertaking the same work as the Inge Kosan, and we are seeking the implementation of additional safety measures to protect them from a similar COVID outbreak.”
Crumlin said it was significant that today was International Workers’ Memorial Day, which not only remembers workers killed or injured at work, but seeks to highlight the need to take action to improve safety.
“Today, on International Workers’ Memorial Day, we have a seafarer from the Inge Kosan who will never return home to his family and friends in the Philippines,” Mr Crumlin said.
“They deserve answers as to how he died and what could have been done to prevent it.
“Even if his death was caused by COVID, we need to get to the bottom of whether he was already ill when the vessel departed Australia, why he didn’t receive medical treatment, and how he ended up dead and washed up on a beach.
“The owner, operator, and charter of this ship all have serious questions to answer about what went wrong to lead to this tragic death.
“The only way to get to the bottom of this is for Australian authorities to thoroughly investigate, to work with their colleagues in Vanuatu who undertook the autopsy, and to interview the remaining crew members as soon as safely possible.
“We wrote to the National Cabinet just last week warning about this exact situation, urging the immediate implementation of a nationally-consistent COVID testing regime for arriving seafarers, appropriate medical treatment for all who test positive, and priority vaccinations for seafarers travelling through Australian ports.”
Sea News, April 28