The Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal.
The Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal.

  • Container ship Ital Libera left Durban on 1 April on its "express" route to ports in Asia.
  • Two months later, it is now in the Red Sea, headed for Italy, for the repatriation of the remains of its captain.
  • The shipping line using its services announced the detection of Covid-19 aboard in early May.
  • No Asian ports would accept it, the shipping line says.
  • From Italy it will head back to Asia again, but there is no word on when the South African cargo may arrive.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

On 1 April, ship-tracking data shows, the container vessel Ital Libera left Durban after four days there to take on cargo bound for various ports in Asia, on its usual "express" route run that usually takes some two weeks.

More than two months later, it is now in the Red Sea headed for Italy, from where it will make another attempt to deliver its cargo to ports such as Singapore and Hong Kong, though it is not clear how long that will take.

The ship owned by the same company as the Ever Given - the ship that blocked the Suez Canal - is sailing back to Italy this week, nearly two months after its captain died on board and the ship was turned away from multiple ports in Asia.

According to the maritime news site gCaptain, the Ital Libera container ship works the Far East to South Africa Express, delivering shipments between South Africa and ports in China and Taiwan.

It's owned by Italia Marittima, a subsidiary of the Evergreen Marine Corporation.

The ship brought on a new captain and crew before setting off from Durban, South Africa, on 1 April, and within days a number of crew members became sick in what appeared to be a Covid-19 outbreak on board, according to the Maritime Executive.

Captain Angel Capurro, 61, is believed to have died on board on April 13, according to Italy's ANSA news agency.

Capurro tested negative for the coronavirus before getting on the ship, and travelled to Durban via Doha, Qatar, and Johannesburg, according to the Maritime Executive.

When Capurro died a decision was made to divert the ship to the port of Jakarta for a 14-day quarantine, according to gCaptain.

After the quarantine was over, Italian officials wanted to fly the captain's body back to Italy, but no Asian ports allowed anyone to get off the boat, Maritime Executive reports.

The Italian ministry of foreign affairs was said to have been turned down by Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines, and South Africa.

For that reason, a decision was made for the ship to sail to Italy to return the captain's body, according to a 7 June update from the Hapag-Lloyd shipping company, a partner of Evergreen.

Hapag-Lloyd said the ship will return to its Far East service, but dates on when are yet to be determined, according to gCaptain.

As of Thursday, the Ital Libera was sailing in the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt, according to the shipping tracker AIS.

(Additional reporting by Phillip de Wet)

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