Eight crew members on Fred. Olsen cruise liner in Firth of Forth contract Covid-19 as six more await test results

Eight crew members on a cruise ship temporarily anchored in the Firth of Forth have contracted Covid-19, with test results still to come back for six others.

The affected crew on the Black Watch cruise liner, operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, only have mild symptoms of the virus and this is being managed on board.

The boat is one of four Fred.Olsen liners – along with the Balmoral, Boudicca and Braemar – to be anchored just off Gullane in the Firth of Forth after the company suspended its operations until May 23rd.

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Fred. Olsen managing director, Peter Steer, said last week that each ship is retaining a small team on board to continue essential operations. It is understood the Black Watch currently has about 60 crew.

The Fred. Olsen cruise liners in the Firth of Forth.The Fred. Olsen cruise liners in the Firth of Forth.
The Fred. Olsen cruise liners in the Firth of Forth.

A Fred.Olsen spokeswoman said that, prior to the company pausing its operations on March 13th, all passengers who were on the Black Watch had disembarked the vessel in line with Public Health England guidance at the time.

But it has now emerged that at least eight crew members on board the Black Watch have contracted coronavirus, with test results due back for six more crew.

A Fred. Olsen spokeswoman said: “Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can confirm that a number of crew members aboard its ship Black Watch have tested positive for Covid-19 coronavirus.

“Eight crew members have tested positive, and we are awaiting the results for six others.

“The ship is operating under the current guidance from Public Health England. Each crew member is occupying their own cabin, each with a balcony.

“There are no social gatherings on board. Crew are only leaving their cabins to perform essential duties, which includes bridge watch, engine watch and the preparation of food.

“Those who have received a positive diagnosis or who are feeling unwell are not undertaking any duties.”

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None of the other three cruise ships temporarily based in the Firth of Forth have had any new reports of coronavirus cases.

A Forth Ports spokeswoman said: “The Black Watch is one of four Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines vessels for which Forth Ports is providing safe anchorage out in the River Forth while they are non-operational.

“As the Statutory River Authority we have instructed that the vessel remains at the anchorage until the appropriate period of self-isolation is complete. The ship’s owners Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines are taking care of the welfare of the crew on board.”

The Braemar

The Braemar made headlines after getting stranded in the Caribbean in March after passengers tested positive for Covid-19.

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Cruise ship stranded in Caribbean over Covid-19 cases anchors in Firth of Forth

Coronavirus was first detected on the Braemar on March 10th , when the ship was docked at Curacao in the Caribbean. No passengers were allowed to disembark.

These two initial positive cases among passengers were joined by four cases among crew members.

In total 28 passengers and 17 crew members were placed into isolation after showing flu-like symptoms.

Because of this the Bahamas and Barbados refused to allow the ship to dock, instead offering to send out supplies of food and medicine.

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After a week stranded in the Caribbean, the ship was eventually allowed into the port of Mariel in Havana, Cuba.

Those of the nearly 700 British people on board who needed medical treatment were given it, while those not in isolation were repatriated.

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