A German cruise ship that’s currently docked in Fremantle is refusing to move, despite being ordered to do so by the Australian Border Force.
A German cruise ship that’s currently docked in Fremantle is refusing to move, despite being ordered to do so by the Australian Border Force.

Cruise standoff as ship refuses to leave

A German cruise ship currently docked at a port in Fremantle, Western Australia, is reportedly refusing to leave Australian waters despite being told to do so by Border Force personnel.

The ship, Artania, which is responsible for dozens of coronavirus cases, has reportedly been ordered by the Australian Border Force to depart Fremantle. But the vessel's operators are pushing back on demands by asking for a two-week extension.

Currently, the ship has around 450 crew members and 12 passengers still on board with some too unwell or frail to fly home.

The German ship, Artania, wants to stay docked in Fremantle. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images.
The German ship, Artania, wants to stay docked in Fremantle. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images.

Seven people from the Artania are in intensive care at Perth hospitals, which are also treating dozens of other stable patients from the vessel.

While about 850 passengers have been flown home, almost all crew are still on board, and Premier Mark McGowan wants the ship to leave immediately, telling reporters on Tuesday he was concerned they would also fall ill and need help.

"There is no reason why it should remain in Western Australia," he said.

"I'd urge the Australian Border Force to get the ship on its way. It has to get back to Germany. I suspect most of the crew want to go back to Germany. I think the Federal Government needs to step up here."

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Ms McGowan said the cruise ship debacle had become one of the "biggest frustrations" of his life.

"I don't want to see the Artania sit there and potentially attract ships from somewhere else on the basis you can stay in Fremantle," he said.

"The cruise ship frustration has been one of the great frustrations of my life and the last two weeks dealing with this has been incredibly difficult but it has been incredibly difficult for everyone."

Banners are hung from the cruise ship MV Artania in Fremantle harbour in Fremantle. Picture: Richard Wainwright/AAP
Banners are hung from the cruise ship MV Artania in Fremantle harbour in Fremantle. Picture: Richard Wainwright/AAP

An Australian Border Force spokesman confirmed all foreign-owned cruise ships had been ordered to leave, but federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said the Artania didn't need to go immediately.

"My information is that there are still 12 passengers on board, some of whom are very unwell and their level of either illness of frailty is such that they cannot get in a plane," Mr Porter told 6PR radio on Wednesday.

"We've got a responsibility to those passengers to ensure the West Australian health system gives them the available attention to ensure that they don't - if I could put this bluntly - die on the voyage home because they've not received proper attention.

Passengers from MS Artania are seen boarding the first Condor Airlines charter aircraft heading back to Frankfurt in Germany at Perth International airport on March 29, 2020. Picture: Richard Wainwright/AAP
Passengers from MS Artania are seen boarding the first Condor Airlines charter aircraft heading back to Frankfurt in Germany at Perth International airport on March 29, 2020. Picture: Richard Wainwright/AAP

"We have a humanitarian obligation." Fremantle Ports has the Artania scheduled to leave at midday local time on Friday but shipping agent Inchcape Shipping Services says that could change. "No-one knows when it's going to leave," vessel operations manager Luke Geneve told AAP.

He said the ship was stocking medical supplies in case people on board fell ill on the journey home. None of those on board are from Australia.

- With AAP

Originally published as Cruise standoff as ship refuses to leave


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