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Man disappears from bulk carrier heading to Hay Point

Emergency services including water police are looking for a 47-year-old Filipino seafarer who was on a bulk carrier headed for Hay Point.
Emergency services including water police are looking for a 47-year-old Filipino seafarer who was on a bulk carrier headed for Hay Point. Contributed

UPDATE: The air and sea search for a missing crew member from a bulk carrier heading to Hay Point has been called off, as an Australian Maritime Safety Authority determined the "timeframe for the man's survival would have expired".

The missing foreign crew member, a 47-year-old Filipino seafarer, was from the Flag of Convenience (FOC) bulk carrier SBI Samba.

"Friday night at last light the search was suspended, with no further searching after that," the spokesman said.

"Medical advice (AMSA) received was that the timeframe for (the man's) survival would have expired.

"Eight helicopters and six boats were involved in the search and nobody found any evidence of the missing crew member."

Marine safety inspectors will visit the ship when it arrives at Hay Point to inspect the bulk carrier to continue their investigations.

According to Maritime Safety Queensland, SBI Samba arrived at Hay Point at 11.42pm Friday.

INITIAL: EMERGENCY services including eight aircraft and five vessels are looking for a 47-year-old Filipino seafarer who was onboard a bulk carrier headed for Hay Point.

The missing foreign crew member from the Flag of Convenience (FOC) bulk carrier SBI Samba.

The man was last seen on Thursday at 1pm off the Queensland coast between Innisfail and Lucinda, while transiting the inner reef.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is co-ordinating the search for the man after he was reported missing on Thursday.

"The crew member was last seen on board at about 1pm and noticed missing at about 5pm. During this time the vessel had transited about 60 nautical miles," an AMSA spokesperson said.

"AMSA Search and Rescue issued a broadcast the shipping in the area and an initial search was completed prior to last light consisting of surface and aerial assets.

"AMSA tasked Queensland Government rescue helicopter, RESCUE 521, to conduct an aerial search of the ships route and drop self locating datum marker buoys to validate drift modelling.

"Surface searching was conducted by the SBI Samba and Townsville Water Police."

The AMSA spokesperson said there had been no sign of the missing crew member and the search was suspended at last light on Thursday.

"A second day search area was prepared overnight of about 800sq nm," the spokesperson said.

"The search area stretches from Mourilyan to the Palm Island group, a distance of around 65nm and up to 15nm wide.

"The search resumed at first light (Friday) morning including eight aircraft and five surface vessels."

The aircraft involved include AMSA's Dornier 328 Search and Rescue plane, six additional fixed wing aircraft, and rescue helicopter RESCUE 521 from Townsville, the spokesperson said.

"The surface vessels involved in today's (Friday) search include two water police vessels and three Volunteer Marine Rescue vessels," they said.

"After discussion with AMSA Search and Rescue SBI Samba was released from the scene early (Friday) morning after completing two searches of their track.

"AMSA surveyors will attend the vessel once it arrives in its next port of Hay Point."

The International Transport Workers' Federation Australia (ITF) is demanding Australian authorities conduct a full investigation into why this latest tragedy occurred on a Greek owned ship before it enters an Australian port to load Australian cargo. 

ITF Australia co-ordinator Dean Summers said it appeared the ship has left the search area to head to port to load cargo.

Australian authorities, including Queensland water police are conducting the search effort. 

"Appallingly, the ship's command appears to place more importance on their cargo than their own seafarers' life," Mr Summers said. 

"ITF Australia demands an immediate inquiry as to what happened, before the ship is allowed to enter an Australian port and start loading Australian cargo." 

In May last year, the FOC Spring Hydrangea had a man overboard and refused to investigate. Its Japanese owners are still refusing to pay compensation to the seafarer's wife and two young children.

And the infamous (FOC) Sage Sagittarius case - where 3 men died, including one MOB - is now the subject of a NSW Coronial Inquiry. 

"This is the modern-day scourge of FOC - the same model the Turnbull Government is allowing to replace the Australian domestic shipping industry," Mr Summers said. 

"Too many times foreign seafarers have lost their lives and their employer use the excuse Man Over Board to avoid a proper investigation. These tragedies go under-reported, demonstrating to the world that these employers think international seafarers are a disposable commodity. 

"Under the lawless FOC system, the country where the ship is registered has the responsibility to investigate. If this happens at all in FOC countries like North Korea, Panama, Mongolia and the Marshall Islands, the reports are scant and incidental. 

"While at this stage there are no reports of foul play, the ITF wants to ensure this is not a replay of the Sage Sagittarius." 

The 229m bulk carrier SBI Samba, owned by Scorpio Commercial Management and registered in Monaco is heading toward the BHP Terminal at Hay Point, North Queensland.

Topics:  bulk carrier hay point mackay missing north queensla


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