Police Seize Black Box from Ruby Princess

file photo courtesy of NSW Police
file photo courtesy of NSW Police (not the Ruby Princess)

Published Apr 8, 2020 8:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

NSW Police have seized the black box of the cruise ship Ruby Princess as part of an investigation to determine who is responsible for letting the vessel's 2,700 passengers disembark in Sydney, Australia, without quarantine on March 19.

There are now 361 passengers and 18 crew members that have tested positive for COVID-19, and there have been six deaths in NSW associated with the vessel. Australia-wide, the Ruby Princess has been linked to more than 600 coronavirus cases and 15 deaths.

A team of 30 NSW detectives from across State Crime, Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics and Marine Area Commands have been seconded to Strike Force Bast which got underway on Wednesday. They will be assisted by intelligence analysts and other specialist officers.

Over 1,000 crew members from 50 different countries remain on the vessel which is moored in Port Kembla, south of Sydney. Around 200 have flu-like symptoms. NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says that about three-quarters of the crew want to stay on the vessel.

The Port Kembla Mission to Seafarers charity is organizing care packages from across the Illawarra to be given to those on board.

The vessel is due to leave Port Kembla and return to Bermuda in seven days, as Australia has ordered all foreign flagged cruise ships to leave its waters. Most have now departed.

The Maritime Union of Australia and the International Transport Workers’ Federation have condemned what they say is the brutal treatment of more than 15,000 international crew on cruise ships that had been delayed in Australian waters as a result of the pandemic.

“We had asked for leadership and a humanitarian response to stranded seafarers drifting around the Australian coast. Instead [Prime Minister Scott] Morrison reverts to type and has ordered all ships to leave Australian waters without any regard for the health, safety, dignity, or for the future safety of 15,000 international workers.

“Ordering flag of convenience ships back to their home ports demonstrates no understanding of the industry and sets a fully crewed flotilla adrift at the worst possible time. The Morrison Government’s reckless and heartless treatment of international workers will put the safety of Australian cruise ship workers at risk in other countries,” state the organizations.