Port delays operations on Matson ship pending COVID-19 test on lifeless crew member

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(Port Authority of Guam photo)

The Port Authority of Guam has delayed the beginning of operations on a Matson ship that arrived this morning after a crew member was found lifeless on board. Out of precaution, the Department of Public Health and Social Services will be conducting a COVID-19 test to ensure that the cause of death is not COVID related.

Port Authority of Guam General Manager Rory J. Respicio was notified this morning by Matson that a crew member aboard M/V Papa Mau was found unresponsive in his cabin as the vessel was en route to Guam. The captain notified the U.S. Coast Guard immediately, and emergency procedures were implemented.

Once notified of the lifeless crew member, the Port prohibited any operations on the vessel and instead the Port’s assistant operations manager escorted four nurses on board to swab the lifeless crew member. Three of the public health nurses were from the Port Clinic and one was a supervisor who came down to the Port to take the lead on the swabbing. The nurses were escorted off the ship and the sample taken to DPHSS for testing. The vessel also was met at the dock by Guam Customs and Public Health.

Matson also advised that all crew members were recently tested for COVID-19, and all received negative results. Matson also noted that crew members do not take liberty at the ports they visit. The Matson Papa Mau was docked at the Port’s F5 pier at 7:25 a.m. The ship’s previous port of call was Palau.

As a precaution, the Port prohibited any operations on the vessel until the COVID test result is received. If the test comes back negative then operations will begin immediately on the vessel. If the swab comes back positive for COVID-19 then the vessel will be placed in quarantine by the Port pending further guidance from DPHSS and other appropriate authorities.

Respicio said the situation will not delay the arrival and operations of any other vessels that are scheduled to arrive today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Port extends its condolences to the family of the deceased as well as to Matson on the loss of their crew member.

Matson also issued the following statement:

“We are saddened to report that while en route to Guam, one of our crew members aboard the M/V Papa Mau was found unresponsive in his cabin. The captain followed emergency protocols and notified the U.S. Coast Guard immediately. Guam Customs cleared the vessel upon arrival into Guam, and out of precaution, the Department of Public Health and Social Services conducted a COVID-19 test of the crew member. The test result came back negative.

Matson follows CDC guidelines and protocols to ensure the safety of all personnel at sea and onshore. All crew members were recently tested for COVID-19, and all received negative test results. Vessel crew members are not allowed to go ashore at the ports they visit to reduce any risk of exposure to COVID-19. Additional Matson protocols include wearing face masks in the presence of others, washing and sanitizing hands often, sanitizing common and personal areas, practicing physical distancing, and limiting access for shoreside personnel.

We appreciate the caution that the Port took to ensure the safety of all onboard and ashore and thank the Coast Guard for their support.”

(PAG, Matson News Release)