Thursday 22 August 2019

International investigation launched into 'major insect infestation' ship towed into Irish port

Three countries now involved in investigation into working conditions on ship towed into Irish port

The vessel was assisted by a tug into Castletownbere port in west Cork last week but a routine survey immediately revealed a major insect infestation on board (Photo: Stock image/Google Maps)
The vessel was assisted by a tug into Castletownbere port in west Cork last week but a routine survey immediately revealed a major insect infestation on board (Photo: Stock image/Google Maps)

Ralph Riegel

IRISH, UK and Indonesian authorities are now liaising over an investigation into working conditions on a ship which had to be towed into an Irish port after encountering engine problems off the south west coast.

Twelve Indonesian crew have since quit the vessel and are now being cared for in a refugee support centre.

The vessel was assisted by a tug into Castletownbere port in west Cork last week but a routine survey immediately revealed a major insect

infestation problem on board.

Experts were called and the ship was fumigated twice in a bid to deal with the problem.

However, a secondary problem erupted over working conditions and contracts on the UK-registered but Spanish-owned vessel.

The crew, comprised of up to 12 Indonesian nationals, subsequently left the vessel as the row escalated.

They were supported onshore by an official from the Indonesian Embassy as well as by marine officials and marine trade union members.

Gardaí subsequently attended the scene.

An investigation is now underway by the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

However, both the UK and Indonesian authorities are also liaising with the Irish authorities over the probe.

Several of the Indonesian crew have traveled to Dublin where they are now receiving consular support.

As the vessel is registered in the UK, British authorities are expected to take a primary role in the investigation.

The vessel does not normally visit Irish ports, usually fishing in deep water in the Atlantic and operating between the UK and Spain.

However, it encountered serious engine problems last week and had to head for the nearest port, Castletownbere, for urgent repairs.

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