The best mate of one of 40 people missing from the Gulf Livestock 1 after it capsized in Japanese waters is begging the Australian government to keep searching for survivors.
Will Mainprize and Tom Suttor’s first sea journey together – travelling from New Zealand to China – was the same route Will was on when he vanished on September 2.
Tom, who got Will into working on ships, says his friend texted him that night before a typhoon hit the vessel.
“He sent me a message at 9pm, telling me the engine’s full of water and the ship’s gone sideways,” Tom told NCA Newswire.
“He sent me that and said it was pretty hardcore.”
But he said hair-raising weather at sea wasn’t anything unusual.
The 27-year-old signed up to work as a stockman transporting live cattle on the voyage, and a week after he was last seen, Will’s friends and family are still praying for him.
“It didn’t even cross my mind that something could have happened to him,” Tom said.
“It’s not the 18th century – ships don’t go missing in storms.
“It’s an absurd thing to try and comprehend, in an age with all the technology we have, that we can’t find this ship.
“It just doesn’t feel right for people just to give up on the search.”
Tom and a group of Will’s friends have started an online campaign to pressure the government into searching for Will, using the hashtag #findmymate and a change.org petition.
The Japanese Coast Guard announced they were giving up the search outside of regular patrols on Wednesday, and Tom and the rest of Will’s friends and family believe the Australian government should step up.
“There’s at least three life rafts that haven’t been found by the Japanese Coast guard,” he said.
“There’s no evidence they aren’t on those vessels.
“Will is literally a trained survivalist. He’s a wilderness guide in Tasmania, and the only reason he went back to work at sea because there’s no work at the moment because of COVID-19.
“I totally commend the Japanese Coast Guard on the efforts that they’ve made already.
“If the Australian government can allocate any sort of resources to them, whether it’s financial or a ship or a plane, that would be much appreciated by everybody.”
Will is one of 40 missing crew members from the ship, along with Australian vet Lukas Orda, two New Zealanders, and 36 Filipinos.
In a joint statement, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said the Australian government thanked Japan for its search and rescue effort, urged it to keep going and offered support.
“Australia is engaging Japanese authorities closely on Japan’s search and rescue effort, acknowledging Japan’s responsibilities in this instance under the International Search and Rescue Convention,” they said.
“Australia is encouraging Japan’s ongoing air and sea efforts, and continues to offer the Japanese authorities any supporting capability needed.
“Japan’s Coast Guard has assured Australia it will not give up its search for those missing.”
Mr McCormack and Ms Payne said the Australian government acknowledged the distress of the family and friends of those missing.
“Tragically, two Australians who were on board the vessel remain missing.
“Our thoughts are with their loved ones at this very difficult time.
“We are also thinking of the families and friends of the remaining crew members from New Zealand and the Philippines who are also missing.”