Australian crew again centre of humanitarian effort at sea
The outstanding professionalism demonstrated by the crew of the Oceanic Viking emphasises the maritime traditions of the Australian merchant navy and the importance of revitalising Australian shipping, currently being considered by the Rudd Government.
"When these seafarers signed on they would never have envisaged themselves in the centre of a situation which has become a political maelstrom," said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. "By the hour it's a highly stressful situation for the refugees and likewise for the crew who are in many ways the men in the middle.
"There are 13 MUA crew on the ship who are working hard to see that the ship's facilities are clean and that the galley is able to cope with the demands of 78 extra mouths", said Mr Crumlin.
"The two cooks who normal cater for no more than 20 or 30 are feeding the extra 78, the Australian crew plus the Customs officers on board. Other crew are hosing the decks down and maintaining sanitary conditions and a number of portaloos have been installed on the decks.
"On behalf of all seafarers I commend the crew on this important humanitarian effort and the earlier work, in line with the efforts of the MUA crew on board the Front Puffin, after a blast aboard a boat of refugee seekers off the Ashmore reef left five people dead", Mr Crumlin said.
"The central role played by Australian seafarers is crucial in complementing defence and border security arrangements and is further argument for the need for a healthy Australian shipping industry.
"Before the Government is a package of measures to ensure sustainable reform of shipping. The package includes fiscal incentives to encourage investment in new ships and also recognizes that, like the rest of the world, we need proper training for new seafarers to fill the skills shortage, including a national maritime skills strategy", said Mr Crumlin.
Conditions get 'more stressful by the hour'
The Age - Melbourne,Victoria,Australia