Death Ship captain punished crew who wanted to dob in ship
A WEEK after a crewman vanished from a ship off the Queensland coastline, its captain attempted to inflict a "disaster" on other seafarers he believed supported a plot to report the ship to Australian authorities.
The coronial inquest into how two sailors died aboard the Sage Sagittarius - now notoriously dubbed the "death ship - heard how Captain Venancio Salas Jr wrote "damning" reviews of crew members he considered part of a plan to have the ship detained when it reached Australian waters.
The inquest has previously heard allegations of gun-running, physical abuse and unpaid overtime would form part of the report to authorities.
When he gave evidence last year, Capt Salas admitted to selling guns on board and striking a crew member.
A young crew member involved revealed the details of the plan to the captain on the morning of August 30, 2012, the same day chief cook Cesar Llanto would disappear overboard.
The plan fizzled, but Capt Salas made it clear that those involved could not be trusted.
Capt Salas told the inquest on Thursday there was no basis to report the ship to authorities, describing the allegations as "fabricated".
The former Sagittarius captain was brought to Sydney for the inquest after his new vessel arrived in the Port of Gladstone this week.
On the evaluation forms for at least four crew members, he wrote that they put the company, captain and ship itself at risk with their plan to contact the International Transport Workers Federation.
The ITF is the international organisation that represents the rights of seafarers.
Capt Salas wrote they should not be re-hired by the company.
Counsel Assisting Philip Strickland SC described the evaluations as "damning", saying it would be a "disaster" for those crew members.
He said such a critical review meant the crew members may never work again
Capt Salas agreed.
He told the inquest it was a "normal" thing to write if crew members were putting the ship "in trouble".
"If crew deserved a negative evaluation, they would get it if they did something bad for the ship," he said.
"This is putting the ship and owners in a difficult position."
Mr Strickland put it to Capt Salas that there was "severe conflict" on board the ship at the time of Mr Llanto's disappearance.
Capt Salas said he did not remember such a conflict.
Mr Llanto's computer was used to record the apparent grievances, although he was not the one writing the complaints.
Mr Strickland asked the captain if he considered the missing cook alongside the crewmen he criticised.
The captain said he didn't, because Mr Llanto was very new to the ship.
Two weeks after Mr Llanto disappeared from the ship, the Sagittarius's chief engineer Hector Collado would die in a fatal fall after receiving a strike to his skull.
A third seafarer - Japanese safety officer Kosaku Monji - was crushed to death by on-board machinery when the Sagittarius arrived in Japan on October 7, marking the third death on board in five weeks.