Sage Sagittarius
Sage Sagittarius

Aboard The Death Ship: Timeline of three fatalities

  • A coronial inquest has begun into two deaths aboard the Japanese MV Sage Sagittarius - dubbed the "death ship".
  • Chief cook Cesar Llanto disappeared from the ship on August 30. 
  • On September 14, engineer Hector Collado fell 11m to his death. Both are considered suspicious.
  • The inquest has already heard allegations of homophobic abuse, gun-running and bullying.
  • On October 6, five weeks after Mr Llanto disappeared, safety superintendent Kosaku Monji was killed in an apparent industrial accident in Japan. This is mostly out of the coroner's jurisdiction.
  • After almost two years of investigation, Australian Regional Media can for the first time present the full detail of what happened on board the Sage Sagittarius.


BASED on evidence given to the Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Police Force, Australia's maritime authorities and tendered to the New South Wales Coroner's Court, this is a comprehensive timeline of how three men came to die aboard the Sage Sagittarius in late 2012.


AUGUST 20, 2012:
Sage Sagittarius leaves Japan's Kudamatsu port with 25 crew, including chief cook Cesar Plete Llanto.

AUGUST 30 (The day of Mr Llanto's disappearance)

6.30 - 7.45am: Cesar Llanto working in the galley/kitchen of the Sagittarius with Jessie Martinez.

7.45am: Martinez leaves the galley and heads to the bridge.

7.55 - 8am: Llanto heads to the bridge. Stays a short time before leaving. It is the last time he is seen. At this moment, the ship is 900km north east of Mackay in the Coral Sea.

8.10am - 8.30am: Around this time, ship captain Venancio Salas arrives at galley for breakfast. Llanto was gone.

8.30am - 9.30am: Crew members search the ship. Llanto is paged through the ship's intercom system. No luck.

9.35am: Captain orders comprehensive search of entire ship.

10.15am: Search finished, no sign of Llanto.

10.20am: Australia's Rescue Coordination Centre is phoned. Distress signal broadcast.

11.02am: Search begins with RCC aircrafts and other ships involved.



6.22pm: Search is called off, 34 hours after Llanto was last seen.



10.40am: Sage Sagittarius dismissed from search, heads to Newcastle. Llanto missing for 50 hours.


Australian Maritime Safety Authority contacts Australian Federal Police to report Llanto's death.

AMSA warns the death could be suspicious after ship owners demanded "complete statements" from crew.

4.45pm: Ship owners' safety superintendent Kosaku Monji lands in Brisbane from Japan.

He is delivered to the Sagittarius by helicopter with two security guards.

Monji would be killed after the ship arrived back in Japan on October 6.


AFP board the Sage Sagittarius at Port Kembla, where it had been diverted, to conduct forensic examinations of vessel and crew.

Workers are interviewed. No evidence of suicide or accidental death.

Raul Vercede, Jessie Martinez, Harvey Penoliar and two other crewmen leave the Sagittarius bound for the Philippines.

SEPTEMBER 14: (The date of Hector Collado's death)

Sage Sagittarius arrives at the Port of Newcastle.

As it comes into port at 8am, Hector Collado falls 11m to his death from the second deck of the engine bay to the lower fourth deck.

New South Wales Police comb the ship, examine Collado's remains and interview the crew.


Hector Collado
Hector Collado

Sagittarius departs from the Port of Newcastle bound for southern Japan.


Ship arrives at Kudamatsu port at 7am local time. Begins unloading at 5pm.

OCTOBER 6: (The final fatality on board)
Safety supervisor Monji, who joined the ship for the first time a month earlier, is found crushed to death in conveyor belt machinery.

He suffocated after parts of his body or clothing was pulled into the moving mechanisms.

Japanese investigators find that his death was not suspicious.


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