News

The muddy waters surrounding the 'murder ship'.

Fair Use - shipspotting.com

IN THE the next week alone, 226 bulk carriers will visit the Central Queensland ports between Bundaberg and Abbot Point north of Mackay, including terminals at Gladstone, Port Alma and Hay Point.

As of last week the Sage Sagittarius was one of the many heading north, 80km off Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Coastal Australians traditionally count bulk carriers that dot the horizon.

READ NEXT: EXPERTS CALL FOR CORONIAL INQUEST

Each of the 22 or so mostly Filipino seafarers on these ships work inside a complicated machine beyond the carriers they crew.

The Philippine Government takes little interest in its booming seaborne population - up to 280,000 worldwide - as international waters remain one of the few lawless places on earth.

The Japanese-owned Sagittarius is registered in Panama, meaning under international law, Panama must investigate any incidents on board.

As a "flag of convenience state", Panama is a haven for shipping giants that entices with a quiet promise of lax scrutiny.

It took more than four months after the first death for Panama to start investigating.

Even then, Sagittarius owners NYK Line and managers Hachiuma Steamship blocked access to possible witnesses who it claimed were "already on vacation".
 

THE VANISHING COOK: How did this seaman 'fall' overboard?

Chief cook Cesar Llanto, 42, disappeared overboard on August 30, 2012 as the Sagittarius rumbled beneath overcast skies 800km north-west of Cairns.

The Panama Maritime Authority dismissed notions of suicide or an accidental fall as the Filipino chief cook was supporting a family with decades of experience.

It offered no explanation for how or why he vanished.

A crewman at the time told authorities the chief cook planned to confront the ship's captain that morning, accusing his superior of physically abusing a lower-ranked crewman.

The story from management and Panama is that the captain and chief officer noticed the cook was gone when their breakfast didn't arrive at 8.30am.

A two-day search led by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and involving nine other bulk carriers was fruitless.

Cleared to restart its journey south, the company dispatched two security guards by helicopter to "soothe the crew".

Philippine Consul-General in Australia Alan Grummit knew nothing of the cook's death until contacted by APN earlier this year.

Australian Federal Police ordered the ship to Port Kembla where authorities interviewed the crew.

On September 9, it left Kembla bound for Newcastle.
 

THE FALLEN ENGINEER: A freak accident?

On September 14 as the ship entered the Port of Newcastle, chief engineer Hector Collado, 55, fell 10.4m in the engine room to his death having spent 30 years in the industry.

He died just four hours before he was to fly home to the Philippines.

The engineer was neither tired, nor affected by drugs or alcohol.

The Panama report found, "He can't be [sic] fall easily off the railing as he is much [sic] familiar to the engine room since he was working (for) the vessel MV Sage Sagittarius for the three contracts".

In seafarer terms, a contract is a nine-month stint.

The Panama report suggested a heart attack could have been the cause of death.

But with the engineer dead in an Australian port, AMSA was able to board and examine the scene in a way it couldn't with the cook.

Its findings did not explain why the engineer fell but stated he died from head injuries not a heart attack. New South Wales Police began investigating.


CRUSHED IN JAPAN: Death of a safety expert

The entire crew including the captain was sent home after the two deaths.

It would be a fresh start as the ship left Newcastle on September 19.

Japanese safety superintendent Kosaku Monji, 37, joined the ship to protect the crew but within weeks he too would be killed.

Between 3am and 4am on October 6 - the third day in a southern Japanese port - Mr Monji was crushed to death by conveyor belt machinery, seemingly as he attempted to oil faulty parts.

A "leg protruding" from the machinery was found shortly before 7.30am.A report by the Japanese Transport Safety Board found he had broken the rules by oiling a faulty part instead of replacing it, which led to him being pulled between the mechanisms.

In its lightweight six-page report, it took only a cursory look at his death.

It suggested the new crew were too inexperienced to help with repairs but it did not consider the causes of the problem.
 

THE VIEW FROM ABOVE: How the company responded

JAPANESE owners of the Sage Sagittarius say there is no reason to be suspicious about the three deaths aboard the ship in late 2012 despite conceding it still has "no idea how they occurred".

Speaking on behalf of owners NYK Line and managers Hachiuma Steamship, Naoya Miyasaka said the company cooperated with all investigations, whether in Australia, Japan or Panama.

It also conducted its own internal examination, but he said the findings would not be made public.

Mr Miyasaka did not answer questions on why a Panama investigator was not given access to interview its former crew.

He said despite its full cooperation with all investigations, "we have no idea as to how they occurred as there were no eye witness accounts of either event."

Topics:  bundaberg editors picks japan newcastle sage sagittarius



GALLERY: Surfers evacuated after 2.5m bull shark spotted

SHARK INFESTED WATERS: DPI keeping track of sharks in our rivers and beaches, including a 2.5m metre bull shark reported at Ballina on Sunday. PHOTO: @nswsharkshark

Dept of Primary Industries has alerted Ballina beach authorities

Found: do you own these roads?

Rappville Pub.

A red tape error from more than 100 years ago has created mystery

VIDEO: Eco event about so much more than surfing

Abysse swimwear co-director Hanalei Reponty models local brand mermaid flippers by Mahina Mer-Fins. Photo by Alina Rylko.

Crowds drop-in by the thousands to colourful surf festival at Byron.

Local Partners

Cars toot during Lismore street protest

Motorists gave their morale suuport to a street protest about refugees on Saturday


Northern Rivers gig guide

PIRATE FLAG: The Hussy Hick's latest single is a crowd favourite that echoes a sentiment of political scepticism. Hear Pirate Flag at Tintenbar Upfront, Tintenbar Hall, tomorrow 7.30pm. $20.

What's on this week in local entertainment

Top 10 things to do this weekend

Reece Smith, Ernie Angelosanto and Shayne Smith will compete for the top of the leaderboard at this weekend's Jodie's Inspiration Golf Day.

Are you looking to get out and about over the next two days?

Teeing off to support Jodie's Inspiration

Reece Smith, Ernie Angelosanto and Shayne Smith will compete for the top of the leaderboard at this weekend's Jodie's Inspiration Golf Day.

Vie for the top of the leaderboard, if you dare

Un-American tale makes Lion weakest link in Oscars line-up

PSYCHOLOGY researchers find US films and actors most likely to win accolades at the Oscars.

Can rightful winner Midnight take out golden Gosling in Oscars?

Can Lion pip La La Land at the post in this year's Oscars? Sunny Pawar (pictured) helped bring a powerful film to the big screen.

WILL Aussie film Lion triumph or will popular La La Land prevail?

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Northern Rivers gig guide

PIRATE FLAG: The Hussy Hick's latest single is a crowd favourite that echoes a sentiment of political scepticism. Hear Pirate Flag at Tintenbar Upfront, Tintenbar Hall, tomorrow 7.30pm. $20.

What's on this week in local entertainment

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!