Tokyo: The managing director of Hachiuma Steamship, the firm that manages the infamous Sage Sagittarius bulk carrier dubbed the death ship by Australian media, has told Splash that the company left the investigation of the mysterious three deaths onboard in a six-week period back in 2012 to the police.
“Hachiuma Steamship was not qualified to embark upon what was essentially a police investigation,” Captain Hitoshi Kamei said today. Hachiuma Steamship is a subsidiary of Japanese shipping major Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK).
“As the shipmanager responsible for the day-to-day operations of the vessel, what we could do was offer our total cooperation and access to various crewmembers to the appropriate authorities, which we have done,” he added.
Two Filipino seamen, chief cook Cesar Llanto and chief engineer Hector Collado, died on the Sage Sagittarius in August and September 2012 as the Panama-flagged vessel was en route to Australia.
Then a Japanese superintendent, Kosaku Monji, was crushed to death on a conveyor belt when the ship was docked in southern Japan on October 6, 2012.
Kamei also confirmed that the then master of the Sage Sagittarius, Venancio Salas, no longer works for the company. Salas has been accused of gun running, punching crew, and trying to cover up incriminating evidence at a recent inquest into the deaths in Sydney. Splash understands however that the Filipino national is still working on ships at present.
In a statement given to Splash NYK said it has “great sympathy for the families impacted by the tragic deaths on board the Sage Sagittarius in late 2012”.