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Australia’s New South Wales police are leading a massive marine operation in Sydney Harbour to provision five cruise ships that have been floating off the coast so they can return to their home ports, as authorities seek to cut the threat of coronavirus transmissions from the vessels.
Dubbed Operation Nemesis, the plan has seen police on Saturday working with the local port authority and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to replenish the ships, transport their staff between vessels, and move them on from the state’s waters.
“It will be the largest peacetime maritime operation undertaken in Sydney Harbour,” Marine Area Command Superintendent Steve Hegarty said in a statement.
Many countries are becoming wary of granting cruise ships entry after the rapidly spreading coronavirus infected more than 700 people on the Diamond Princess berthed off Yokohama, Japan.
The Radiance of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas have both been restocked with fuel, medical supplies and food, and on Saturday afternoon departed the state’s waters, headed for their home countries. About 600 foreign workers were moved between the ships on tenders.
The Celebrity Solstice entered Sydney Harbour on Saturday afternoon and the Voyager of the Seas and Ovation of Seas were due later in the day, according to the statement.
Another 780 crew members will be moved between the three ships on tenders on Saturday evening before they depart.
Australia has barred foreign cruise ships, but allows domestic vessels and some ships that were at sea when the restrictions were announced, to dock and disembark passengers.
Hundreds of people have become infected with the coronavirus after passengers were allowed to disembark a ship in Sydney before test results were known.
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