Seafarer Goes Missing from Vroon’s Livestock Carrier, ITF Hints at Foul Play

A 45-year-old seafarer working on board the livestock carrier Galloway Express is reported missing, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said, urging for an investigation into the man’s disappearance.

The mariner apparently went missing on March 13, 2018, in what was described as “man overboard” incident, while the flag of convenience ship was bound for Australia.

“The disappearance occurred in international waters and should be investigated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) who have experience on dealing with these cases following the high-profile case of FOC Sage Sagittarius in 2012 where three seafarers died, and the NSW coroner found at least two were victims of foul play,” Dean Summers, ITF National Co-ordinator, said.

Summers added that Queensland Police had boarded the vessel yesterday when it docked at Townsville, but he called into question their understanding of the crew’s language, culture, and appreciation of maritime industry.

The livestock carrier, owned by Dutch company Vroon, is registered in Singapore and has been reportedly chartered by Australian based Harmony Agriculture and Food Company.

“First of all, we are all very saddened by this tragic event. Our primary concern is with the family and fellow crew of the missing seafarer, second engineer Arnel Gillo,” Vroon spokesperson said in a statement to World Maritime News.

As informed by Vroon, once the crew determined the seafarer was missing, the vessel turned around and conducted a 39 hr search and rescue operation.

“Mayday calls were sent out immediately and the relevant authorities were informed. Meanwhile the crew on board the Galloway Express conducted a thorough search of the vessel. After completion of a second thorough search of the vessel, which also turned out to be negative, representatives from our company went to Mr. Gillo’s home on the same day, March 13, to inform his wife and family of the situation,” the statement further reads.

Vroon spokesperson added that the company was fully cooperating with the Australian police, together with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which are conducting the investigation. A company inquest into the matter is also said to be underway.

“We cannot report much pending the investigation other than so far there are no signs of foul play,” the spokesperson added.

On the other hand, ITF claims that the owners refuse to cooperate with the federation.

The union was apparently contacted by the seafarer’s family after attempts of receiving information on the fate of the mariner from the company failed. Nevertheless, an ITF inspector has not been able to board the vessel and speak with the ship’s master and crew, the federation said.

At this stage the parallels with Sage case are obvious, Summers pointed out.