The International Transport Workers’ Federation has urged the WA Government and maritime safety agencies to ensure the crew of the MPV Everest are allowed to leave the vessel and receive industry-specific support services once the vessel docks in Fremantle this afternoon.
While expeditioners onboard Australia’s temporary Antarctic resupply vessel are expected to depart once it docks, there are fears international seafarers – who have been operating the ship since last year – will be forced to remain on board or go into quarantine.
The ITF said that the crew, who successfully extinguished a major engine fire on board the vessel last Monday, were in desperate need of appropriate support services to deal with the traumatic emergency they had just been through.
ITF Australia coordinator Ian Bray has written to the WA Government and Australian Maritime Safety Authority seeking priority access for seafarer welfare agencies once the vessel docks.
“Having just been through an extremely serious fire while their vessel was deep in the Southern Ocean, far from help, everyone onboard the MPV Everest will be in need of urgent assistance to help them process this distressing experience,” Mr Bray said.
“While the expeditioners will be able to leave the vessel and go home to the support of friends and family, the crew will remain stuck in WA until the future of the damaged vessel is known.
“These seafarers have already been away from their families since October last year, with this major fire pushing back their return home even further.
“We are extremely concerned that the crew will be isolated in quarantine or forced to remain onboard the vessel, far from the help they need, adding to their serious mental anguish.”
Mr Bray said the ITF was seeking priority access for employee assistance provider Hunterlink, which has extensive experience within the maritime industry both nationally and internationally.
“Australia has world-class support services with specialist maritime experience, and these services should be provided immediately to everyone onboard,” he said.
“This has been a traumatic voyage, and representatives of specialist support services with expertise in our industry should be among the first people to board the Everest to ensure the crew’s health and welfare is a priority.
“Investigating the cause of the fire is important, but those efforts should not come at the expense of the wellbeing of marine crew and expeditioners.”