The air and sea search for a missing crew member from the bulk carrier SBI Samba has been called off, after local authorities said the timeframe for the man’s survival would have expired.
The 47-year-old Filipino seafarer was last seen at 1300hrs AEDT on January 12 but was not noticed missing until four hours later, during which time the ship had travelled more than 60 nautical miles south.
The seafarer is believed to have gone overboard somewhere off the Queensland coast between Innisfail and Lucinda, while transiting the inner reef.
Eight helicopters and six boats were involved in the search, and nobody found any evidence of the missing crew member. The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel has now arrived in Hay Point, Australia.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation Australia (ITF) is demanding Australian authorities conduct a full investigation. The incident is the latest in what Summers calls a shocking run involving flag of convenience vessels off Australia’s coast.
In May last year, the Spring Hydrangea suffered a man over board and refused to investigate, Summers says. He says the vessel’s Japanese owners are still refusing to pay compensation to the seafarer’s wife and two young children.
And the infamous Sage Sagittarius case – where three men died, including one man over board – is now the subject of an Australian Coronial Inquiry.
“This is the modern-day scourge of flags of convenience,” 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.
“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 opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.