Thursday, May 29, 2014

Speculation Surrounds Death of Three Seafarers Aboard General Cargo Ship

Police Hand Over Investigation After Tragedy with No Suspicious Circumstances
Shipping News Feature

UK – The mystery surrounding the illness and subsequent death of three men employed upon a general cargo ship whilst moored in the East Yorkshire port of Goole on the May 26th Bank Holiday continues. The three deceased, 60 year old German Gerd Jescheniak, and two 33 year old Filipinos Ferrer Punongayan and Jonathan Sanosa were aboard the German flagged Suntis, owned by Frank Hagenah Schiffahrt, and managed by Luise and Uwe Warnecke, all of Heiligenstedten, which was carrying timber when they became ill. The principals declined to comment whilst the investigation was proceeding.

Speculation surrounds the precise circumstances but emergency services responded to a 7am call from the West Dock on Monday and the men were taken to Hull Royal Infirmary where they were later confirmed dead. Goole is managed by Associated British Ports (ABP) whose spokesperson said the company was continuing to work closely with the relevant authorities whilst their thoughts were with those affected by this tragic shipboard incident. The police investigation quickly concluded after which they issued the following statement:

“After the investigation, police have determined that nothing suspicious has been found and no criminal activity has taken place. The investigation, to determine how the three men died, has now been handed over to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Police will now prepare a file for the coroner.”

Other reports state that the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch will be preparing a report for the Coroner and the speed of the police decision would indicate something obvious caused the tragedy, perhaps fumes from a malfunctioning heater or similar and it is to be hoped the matter will be speedily resolved. The sad circumstances prompted the Revd Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, to comment:

"The tragic deaths on the Suntis illustrate clearly the dangers of working at sea. Despite laudable advancements in technology and training over the years, accidents do happen, and in harsh and complex working environments they can cost lives. Unfortunately, for many of the world's 1.5 million seafarers, danger is often present despite safety measures, training and other precautions.

"Over 90% of the goods we use every day come to us by sea, and we in the UK rely on this hidden workforce. It is regrettable that it takes an accident like this to bring them into the public eye. Incidents like these often leave the remaining crew shocked or traumatised, and we offer counselling and practical support to crews such as this one every day."