Storm in a port

The mutiny in Fremantle’s harbour looks set to drag into a second week, with no one prepared to send the MV Artania on its way, despite premier Mark McGowan’s insistence the ship, which has filled local hospitals with 40 Coronavirus patients, should be escorted away from Western Australia. The crew, who are trapped on board in what’s being described as a “humanitarian disaster” have tried to win local hearts with a prominent sign thanking the port city.

Cruise ship standoff

AUSTRALIA should help repatriate any crew stuck on the stranded MV Artania 

in Fremantle’s harbour, but not wear the cost, says the Maritime Union of Australia.

The ship has this week been the centre of a stand-off between the McGowan government, which wants it escorted out 

of Australian waters, and its charismatic captain Morten Hansen who doesn’t want to sail away in case any more cases of Coronavirus develop amongst his crew.

MUA west coast deputy secretary Adrian Evans told the Herald while his members weren’t dealing with the Artania, he’d like to think Australia was a compassionate country and would ensure the crew was safe.

On Sunday most passengers, other than a handful of 

‘stowaways’ that secretly remained on board and are now quarantined in a hotel, were flown home to Frankfurt on charter flights. Forty people from the ship are still in local hospitals. 

Mr Evans said his heart went out to the crew, who were stuck in a limbo his national branch is describing as a “humanitarian disaster”.

There are believed to be more than 10,000 crew members on cruise ships around the country who will not be allowed to disembark.

Mr Evans says the cruising industry must bear some of the blame for the prevalence of 

“flag of convenience”. Although the Artania’s home port is Germany, it was registered in the Philippines and many of its crew come from Asia.

Mr Evans says the Australian government should organise for them to be flown to their home countries and ensure the cruise company picked up the tab. 

He said the ships would only need a minimum crew to get home.

Meanwhile the passengers who arrived back in Frankfurt this week were full of praise for Capt Hansen’s efforts in getting them into Fremantle and then back home, which was described as a “logistical masterpiece”, though some were still grumbling they hadn’t heard from their tour company about a flagged refund.

by STEVE GRANT

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