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19 April, 2021

Bring them ashore: WTA chair wants crew off Movers 3

Weipa Town Authority chairman Michael Rowland says officials must move quickly to bring the 20 men stranded on a cargo vessel to Weipa and take care of them here.

By Matt Nicholls

By MATT NICHOLLS

Another crew member left the ship last week, taking the number to 20 on board, from 22 originally.

Movers 3 has been anchored off the Port of Weipa for seven weeks and needs major repairs for it to be seaworthy.

Mr Rowland said it was now a humanitarian issue and urged the relevant authorities to intervene.

“I think anybody in Weipa who understands the situation would be horrified,” he said.

“It’s totally unacceptable. The weather is still very warm at the moment; I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the Gulf on a boat.”

The WTA chairman said with just 20 crew members left on board, authorities could bring them to Weipa and keep them at RAAF Base Scherger.

“It’s a clear humanitarian concern. They signed up to a job and through no fault of their own are now left stuck at sea,” he said.

“I would expect whoever is in charge to move a lot faster.”

Mr Rowland said the government should hire a company to take care of the vessel while it was held in detention to ensure that it didn’t pose a danger.

“Bring the crew members here, process them and look to send them back home if you can. In the meantime, send someone out to look after the ship,” he said.

“That’s what has happened in the past with illegal fishing boats in the Gulf. But you shouldn’t leave them out there.”

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has no plans to change the status quo.

“Crew have been provided access to mental health support services via video and telephone link,” a spokesperson said.

“A second crew member has requested repatriation for personal reasons and this is being facilitated.

“That crew member is not part of the ship’s minimum manning requirements and therefore a replacement is not required.”

AMSA said the ship’s classification society, on behalf of the flag State of Panama, had attended the ship to undertake a flag State inspection focusing on crew welfare.

“Several inconsistencies, mostly relating to the write-up of crew contracts and documentation of work and rest hours, were identified and the flag State is working with the operator to resolve these issues,” AMSA said.

“We are supporting the flag State and are pleased to see their engagement in resolving these issues. Our inspector also attended the ship at the same time.”

Sources told Cape York Weekly that the owner of Movers 3, Aswan Shipping, was experiencing financial difficulty and would unlikely foot the bill for the repairs to the vessel, or the wages of the men on board.

Half of its six-vessel fleet has been placed in detention and there are concerns about the other three.


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