AT LEAST seven crew members of the Panamanian-flagged bulker Vega Dream (IMO 9532094) have tested positive for COVID-19, the Australian Maritime Safety has confirmed.

The ship is used in the iron ore trade between Australia and China and is currently moored at Port Hedland.

AMSA stated that it was informed at the weekend that a crew member aboard Vega Dream had tested positive for COVID-19.

WA Health officials tested the remaining crew with six additional crew members testing positive for the virus yesterday.

AMSA directed Vega Dream to remain within the limits of Port Hedland, which includes its anchorage, until the ship has been cleared by WA Health and the vessel’s owner provides AMSA with a plan detailing how the health and wellbeing needs of the crew will be met.

“This action was also to ensure the ship has sufficient crew to meet its minimum safe manning level,” the regulator stated.

AMSA is responsible for ship safety but not Australia’s biosecurity or border control measures. 

A news report on the Vega Dream. Credit: Sky News and YouTube

WA Health is providing health and medical support.

“The ports and each jurisdiction have comprehensive strategies in place to manage COVID-19 in the port and shipping environment to ensure the safety of the Australian community,” AMSA stated.

“AMSA, along with other commonwealth government bodies, is working with WA Health, the Port Authority and the ship owners to develop an agreed plan to manage the COVID cases on board Vega Dream.

“The health and wellbeing of the crew is the paramount concern and finalising a solution as quickly as possible is the common goal or all parties.”

The Vega Dream is to remain at the Port Hedland Anchorage until AMSA receives confirmation from WA Health and the ship’s owners that the vessel is able to safely depart and the crew on board are fit for duty.