Published on Thursday, April 9, 2020

Detectives remove black box from Ruby Princess and quiz captain in coronavirus probe

Detectives have boarded the Ruby Princess cruise ship to remove its black box and question crew as part of a criminal investigation into why around 2,700 passengers were allowed to leave the coronavirus-hit vessel in Sydney three weeks ago.

Some 600 passengers later tested positive for Covid-19, prompting authorities to link the ship to an outbreak of the virus in New South Wales. Fifteen of the passengers have since died.

The ship remains at Port Kembla, 70 miles south of Sydney, with 1,040 crew trapped onboard, 18 of them with confirmed coronavirus and around 200 others showing symptoms.

Authorities said three-quarters of the crew were happy to remain on the cruise ship, from where their medical condition is being assessed. 

The ship has been linked to hundreds of Covid-19 cases and more than a dozen deaths across Australia after passengers were allowed to leave the ship in Sydney and travel home.

New South Wales detectives wearing personal protective equipment boarded the vessel at Port Kembla on Wednesday night to gather evidence about how the hundreds of passengers aboard were allowed to leave the ship on March 19.

"Strike Force Bast investigators are conducting inquiries on-board the Ruby Princess this evening," NSW Police said in a statement.

"The operation is being conducted under the strictest health and workplace safety guidelines."

The NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, said officers removed a black box 'very similar to that of international planes' along with other evidence. He said the ship's captain had been 'extremely helpful'.

He said people had dropped off a number of care packages at the port for the crew members.

Police intend to interview other witnesses, while the ship is expected to remain at Port Kembla for 10 days.


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