Vietnamese seafarer dodges Australian quarantine by swimming ashore

A Vietnamese crew member of bulker Sakzaya Champion (IMO 9680360) appeared in Albany Magistrates Court via video link on January 11th after jumping from the ship, swimming ashore, and booking in at a local hostel.

The vessel had arrived in Albany on January 7th and the illegal immigrant – Ho Anh Dung, 37, swam to shore at around 06:00 local time on January 9th.

He was charged with breaching Covid-19 regulations. The police, in heavy protective gear, arrested him outside the backpackers during the night of January 9th. Covid-19 tests taken from Mr Ho and others at the hostel all returned negative results.

Assisted by a Vietnamese translator in court, Albany Magistrate Diane Scadden told Mr Ho a lawyer had not been found who could represent him, and he would remain in custody until his next court appearance on January 14th. That delay looks to have meant that he was left behind in Australia, as the Sakzaya Champion left Albany late on January 11th, bound for South Africa with an ETA of January 28th. Mr Ho’s reasons for leaving his ship remain unknown.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said at a press conference at the weekend that “we’ve had thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of ships coming to Western Australia over the course of the last year . . . This is the only time I’m aware of someone jumping off a ship into the water and swimming ashore. Clearly, that was not something anyone would have predicted.”

Covid-19 is currently a high-profile issue in Western Australia, with tougher quarantine measures implemented at the weekend in response to a case of the new, more infectious UK strain being detected in Brisbane, Queensland.

Western Australia has tightened its controls on coronavirus risk from shipping in recent months, responding to outbreaks on board bulkers and livestock carriers. Since late October crew members have been restricted to disembarking at Perth, or must board charter flights to Perth within eight hours of disembarking at another Western Australian port. Once arriving in Perth, they must be isolate at a quarantine hotel for 14 days, at their own expense. 2014-built, Panama-flagged, 41,766 gt Sakzaya Champion is owned by Sakizaya Navigation SA care of manager Wisdom Marine Lines SA of Taipei, Taiwan. ISM manager is Wisdome Marine Intl LLC of Taipei City, Taiwan. It is entered with Japan Club (Tokyo office in charge) on behalf of Sakizaya Navigation SA