The Sage Sagittarius – dubbed the death ship after three fatal incidents – is in the headlines again after a 16-month investigation by Australian authorities with charges yet to be laid.
The Sage Sagittarius – dubbed the death ship after three fatal incidents – is in the headlines again after a 16-month investigation by Australian authorities with charges yet to be laid. Fair Use - shipspotting.com

Alleged "Death Ship" still sails despite unsolved murders

A CARGO-carrier dubbed the "murder ship" continues from port to port as three mysterious deaths remain unsolved after 16 months of investigation.

International Transport Workers' Federation coordinator Dean Summers said he felt investigating the Japanese-owned Sage Sagittarius was no longer a priority for New South Wales and federal police.

The carrier owned by NYK Line was diverted from its route north-west of Cairns on August 30, 2012, after senior cook Cesar Plete Llanto, 42, was lost overboard - his body was never recovered.

The ship was ordered to head to Port Kembla near Wollongong in NSW for examination.

The Australian Federal Police has been investigating the incident ever since.

Just two weeks after Mr Llanto disappeared, the ship's chief engineer Hector Collado, 57, died after suffering "a fall causing head injuries" on September 14.

The ship had left Port Kembla and was moored in Newcastle at the time.

New South Wales police deemed the incident suspicious and they too are investigating.

Both Mr Llanto and Mr Collado were Philippine citizens, part of a scattered community from the developed country who crew ocean-crossing cargo ships.

As a result of the two incidents in 2012, a Japanese superintendent named Kosaku Monji, 37, was to travel to Japan aboard the Sagittarius.

The highly experienced seafarer died on October 6 in 2012 after falling into the conveyor belt system while the ship was docked at a southern Japanese port.

Japanese authorities are investigating this third case.

This string of fatalities shocked the international shipping world.

At the time, Mr Summers named the Sage Sagittarius a death ship, or murder ship. Now he worries those responsible will never be caught.

"I fear that nothing has happened," Mr Summers said. "(Authorities) keep saying it's still in train - it supports our claim that shipping is an invisible industry.

"I was asked to cooperate with the AFP because (the Sage Sagittarius) was an investigation site.

"I've had to keep chasing them for some dialogue."

Thousands of seafarers from the Philippines crew bulk carrier ships operating in Australian waters

In Queensland late last week, there were 11 ships off the Port of Hay Point south of Mackay, 16 off the Port of Gladstone and 14 off Brisbane. Another 36 were arriving, leaving or moored in Sydney's Botany Port.

The AFP and NSW Police told APN the investigation is continuing but would not provide an update.

Ship owners NYK Line declined to comment on the investigation except to say it is cooperating with authorities.


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