Front Page
October 31, 2014
Oil tanker denied entry into Vincentian waters

An oil tanker was denied entry into Vincentian waters earlier this month, when officials of this country were informed that two of the crew members were exhibiting symptoms of the Ebola virus.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves during a sitting of Parliament last Friday.{{more}}

Gonsalves, who is the Minister with responsibility for National Security, revealed that on October 14, he received a call from his Permanent Secretary, who told him that an oil tanker by the name of “Noble Spirit,” which was scheduled to dock in this country at 11p.m. that night, had two Filipino nationals on board, who had high fever and vomiting; two symptoms of the ebola virus.

The Prime Minister indicated that this information had come from the Jamaican Coastguard, following an attempt by the tanker to dock in Jamaica. The two crew members had boarded the tanker at a port in Houston, Texas, on October 10.

“You could imagine the dozens of telephone calls I had to make to different places,” the Prime Minister said.

“I gave the Coastguard instructions and the Signal Station… and for all the agencies to be contacted, so the vessel would not be permitted to enter the waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Gonsalves told Parliament that the tanker was allowed innocent passage through St Vincent and the Grenadines waters, but changed its course and went to Barbados, where they were also denied entry. He added that from Barbados, it went to Equatorial Guinea to the oil port, Punta Europa.

“Mr Speaker, Honourable members, you see the potential for harm. It could be on any vessel which comes in, at any place in our archipelago of islands,” the Prime Minister said, while addressing the state of readiness of the country if ebola were to land in the multi-island state.

“So, I can’t start to talk about complete readiness until I have that sorted out in every respect. We are at a particular level of readiness, but not as yet at a level which I could say we are fully prepared. I cannot say that.”

The first person to be diagnosed with ebola in the United States was Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas on September 30.(BK)