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Chinese container vessel described as a ‘DEATH SHIP’ allowed to dock and unload in Melbourne

Australian workers have been forced to board a ship fresh out of China despite concerns its 26 crew had not been adequately isolated or tested for coronavirus. 

The dozen-person stevedore team on Tuesday night boarded the OOCL Shanghai just hours after it berthed at Melbourne’s West Swanson Dock. 

Daily Mail Australia has been told the terminal’s operator, DP World Australia, threatened to sack the terrified team if they refused to board the vessel. 

The OOCL Shanghai berthed at Melbourne's West Swanson Terminal on Tuesday night. It had just come from Taiwan and China

The OOCL Shanghai berthed at Melbourne’s West Swanson Terminal on Tuesday night. It had just come from Taiwan and China

One supporter of the Australian crew took to Facebook early on Wednesday morning after learning that his old mates had been forced to board a risky ship

One supporter of the Australian crew took to Facebook early on Wednesday morning after learning that his old mates had been forced to board a risky ship 

OOCL Shanghai and OOCL Yokohama alongside Sydney Container terminal in 2016. The Shanghai is expected to dock again at Sydney on Friday

OOCL Shanghai and OOCL Yokohama alongside Sydney Container terminal in 2016. The Shanghai is expected to dock again at Sydney on Friday

Documents obtained by Daily Mail Australia show the vessel had sailed from Kaohsiung in Taiwan on March 13 – just 11 days earlier. 

Days before it had visited Shanghai and Qingdao in China, where the deadly virus was discovered in December. 

Under tough new border control guidelines, ship crews entering Australia from China must be kept in 14 days isolation from the moment the ship sets sail from its departure port. 

The vessel is scheduled to arrive in Sydney on Friday before berthing at Brisbane on March 30. 

Under the new border control guidelines, ship masters must notify Australian border control if any of its crew is showing signs of coronavirus symptoms before being allowed to dock. 

Under the rules, crew on the OOCL Shanghai must remain in isolation until at least the vessel arrives in Sydney.  

The OOCL Shanghai arrived into Melbourne just after 9pm on Tuesday night – a little over an hour after the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced tough new restrictions on all Australians. 

These include limiting social gatherings to ten people, a blanket ban on overseas travel and closing down more workplaces to curb the spread of coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organization, it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. 

The revelations come amid a finger-pointing fiasco about who allowed infected passengers loose from a cruise ship that docked in Sydney. 

More than 100 passengers on the Ruby Princess, which disembarked in Sydney on Thursday, have since been confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Some 13 passengers showed respiratory symptoms before disembarkation at 6am on Thursday, with three testing positive to COVID-19. 

One passenger, a 77-year-old woman, has since died.

The OOCL Shanghai is headed to Brisbane (pictured) after a stop in Sydney. DP World Australia operates terminals along Australia's east coast where the vessel will berth

The OOCL Shanghai is headed to Brisbane (pictured) after a stop in Sydney. DP World Australia operates terminals along Australia’s east coast where the vessel will berth

Melbourne stevedores are worried they've been forced onto a container vessel infected with the deadly coronavirus

Melbourne stevedores are worried they’ve been forced onto a container vessel infected with the deadly coronavirus

DP World Australia in Melbourne operates the terminal where stevedores last night were forced to board the OOCL Shanghai (pictured)  that had only 11 days earlier sailed from Taiwan. It had been in China earlier

DP World Australia in Melbourne operates the terminal where stevedores last night were forced to board the OOCL Shanghai (pictured)  that had only 11 days earlier sailed from Taiwan. It had been in China earlier

Timeline of the OOCL Shanghai

March 6: Vessel departs Pusan, Korea

March 9: Vessel leaves Qingdao, China and a day later departs Shanghai

March 13: Ship departs Kaohsiung, Taiwan bound for Australia

March 15:  Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduces tough new laws requiring ship masters to notify Australian border control if any of its crew is showing signs of coronavirus symptoms before being allowed to dock

Under the rules, crew on the OOCL Shanghai must remain in isolation until Friday, when it arrives in Sydney

March 24: Prime Minister announces tough new stage 2 restrictions designed to stem the spread of coronavirus

9.30pm:  The OOCL Shanghai arrives at Melbourne’s West Swanson Terminal

It is cleared by Australian Border Control  to be unloaded

10.30pm: Workers are told they must unload the ship or face the sack

11pm: Wearing masks and gloves they board the vessel

Midnight: Workers disembark and  continue their shift unloading the containers

DP World staff told Daily Mail Australia they had felt abandoned by the company, its union and the Australian government. 

One stevedore, who wished to remain anonymous over fears he would be sacked, said DP World ignored their concerns over boarding the container ship. 

‘If they quarantined the thing properly we have been happy to have boarded. The thing is a death ship for all we know’ he said. 

The Australian crew donned gloves and masks while on the ship and all went home to their families immediately after finishing their shift. 

‘We were stood over to work or we would lose our jobs,’ the worker said. ‘”If you don’t do the job you’ll be stood down,” was the exact words.’

Stevedores claim their union delegate ‘took off’ hours before the ship docked so he would not have to deal with the fall out. 

Members pay thousands of dollars a year to be represented by the notoriously militant Maritime Union of Australia, which recently become a division of the powerful construction union. 

‘They don’t want industrial action at the moment, so we just had to cop it,’ the source said.  

More than 100 passengers on the Ruby Princess, which disembarked in Sydney on Thursday, have since been confirmed to have the coronavirus. 

A ship pre-arrival report shows all of the countries the OOCL Shanghai had visited before arriving in Melbourne on Tuesday night

A ship pre-arrival report shows all of the countries the OOCL Shanghai had visited before arriving in Melbourne on Tuesday night

The boarding was ticked off by Australian Border Force and WorkSafe Victoria, he said. 

‘WorkSafe backed away from it. They were too scared to even come down,’ he said. ‘Everyone knew this ship was coming in and they’ve all run for the hills.’

One ex-employee of DP World took to social media last night to slam the company. 

‘If you were in this position what would you do? A container ship has arrived from China which has docked at three Chinese ports in the last 14 days,’ he wrote. 

‘Would you get up on the ship to work it, not knowing if the crew are carrying coronavirus and without measures (being) taken to (guarantee) the workers’ safety by the company?’

 ‘Also, how would you react if you were told if you didn’t, you would be sent home without pay or possibly sacked?’

Daily Mail Australia has been told concerns are also being held for the sea pilot who navigated the vessel through Melbourne’s heads into Port Phillip Bay and into the terminal. 

‘Pilots should be quarantined,’ one DP World Australia insider said. 

‘But the boss is not the Australian government. If the government allows them to dock, why wouldn’t the boss? 

‘The ship is customs checked, the Port of Melbourne lets the ship in, what is the terminal to do about it? We have to unload it.’ 

Melbourne's West Swanson Terminal where the OOCL Shanghai docked on Tuesday night

Melbourne’s West Swanson Terminal where the OOCL Shanghai docked on Tuesday night 

Maritime industry observer and specialist journalist Dale Crisp told Daily Mail Australia that Australians had nothing to worry about. 

‘Taiwan is not China – it’s exactly the opposite. China wants it to be China but Taiwan is still independent and continues to fight the fight,’ he said. 

Mr Crisp said shipping lines coming out of China had been going to Melbourne first for more than a month so that sea pilots would not need to board vessels until the 14-day isolation period had expired. 

‘Border Force would not of let it in and pilots wouldn’t have boarded it,’ he said. 

Furthermore, Mr Crisp said ships that docked at northern ports were kept out at sea before berthing in Australia and had been doing so for more than a month. 

‘They have changed the port rotation to ensure these 14 day quarantines are strictly observed,’ he said. ‘(Australia) was ahead of the curve in getting this going.’

Mr Crisp said it would be ‘madness’ for shipping lines to flout the regulations. 

‘If something like that happened, and that caused the widening and tightening of the bans, they’re ruined,’ he said. ‘I don’t know who fired up the wharfies at West Swanson, but the idea that their union has abandoned them sounds like someone has spent too much time in the tea room reading social media.’ 

He said any vessel entering Australian waters had always needed to prove its ship met our strict regulatory requirements. 

‘The master of the ship has to make a statutory declaration about the state of health about anybody on board … they just would not of let it in,’ Mr Crisp said.   

On March 1, OOCL stated the company required all crew to undergo temperature checks and to wear masks. 

It further outlined other precautions it had taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus, including ‘cancelling leave requests from crew, suspending crew replacement, restricting shore passes for crew in Chinese ports and other ports subject to measures being implemented by local authorities and temperature checking any personnel that board OOCL vessels’. 

A WorkSafe Victoria spokesman said it was making inquiries into the incident. 

DP World Australia, Australian Border Force, OOCL and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews have all been contacted for comment. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by Angle News

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