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THE MARITIME Union of Australia has called on Authorities to open an independent investigation into the death of a man on the LPG tanker Inge Kosan.

The Maritime Union of Australia said the anchoring of the vessel in Australian waters gave local authorities the best opportunity to properly interview the crew and fully investigate how one of the seafarers died.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said there are serious questions that must be answered about how the deceased seafarer died, and how his body came to be washed up on a beach in Vanuatu.

“Now that the vessel is anchored in Australian waters, local authorities have the opportunity and obligation to launch a thorough, independent investigation,” Mr Crumlin said.

“The Inge Kosan was on charter to a major Australian business, it had recently left an Australian port, and it was carrying Australian gas to our Pacific neighbours. It couldn’t be any clearer that Australia has an obligation to get to the bottom of why one of the seafarers died in the subsequent weeks.”

Mr Crumlin said given the vessel is one of four vessels in the fleet that Origin Energy charters to carry gas around the Australian coast, the union urges the company to co-operate with an investigation.

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“We are also concerned about the safety of the crews onboard the other three tankers in the Origin fleet, who are undertaking the same work as the Inge Kosan, and we are seeking the implementation of additional safety measures to protect them from a similar COVID outbreak,” he said.

“Even if his death was caused by COVID, we need to get to the bottom of whether he was already ill when the vessel departed Australia, why he didn’t receive medical treatment, and how he ended up dead and washed up on a beach.”

Mr Crumlin said the owner, operator, and charter of this ship all have serious questions to answer about what went wrong to lead to this tragic death.

“The only way to get to the bottom of this is for Australian authorities to thoroughly investigate, to work with their colleagues in Vanuatu who undertook the autopsy, and to interview the remaining crew members as soon as safely possible,” he said.

“We wrote to the National Cabinet just last week warning about this exact situation, urging the immediate implementation of a nationally-consistent COVID testing regime for arriving seafarers, appropriate medical treatment for all who test positive, and priority vaccinations for seafarers travelling through Australian ports.”

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