NSW Police have pulled off the largest maritime operation Sydney has seen outside of wartime in a bid to get cruise ships back to their home port.
During what police are calling ‘Operation Nemesis’, the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command was assisted by Port Authority of NSW and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to safety coordinate the return of the cruise ships to their home ports.
Following the departure of the Spectrum of the Seas and the Radiance of the Seas on Saturday afternoon, the three remaining Royal Caribbean ships were also anchored in the harbour during the course of Saturday evening and the early hours of Sunday morning.
According to police, the Voyager of the Seas was the first of the final three vessels to leave NSW waters departing about 8pm on Saturday to return to an international port. It was followed by the Ovation of the Seas at about midnight on Sunday and Celebrity Solstice about 1.45am.
In total police moved more than 1,300 crew members, who were Foreign Nationals, between the five ships, before the ships departed NSW waters to return to their home countries.
Five Australian crew members elected to remain on the ships and continue to international ports.
“NSW Police has been instrumental in facilitating the movement of more than 750,000 tonnes of shipping through the Port of Sydney over about a 30-hour period,” Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Steve Hegarty said.
“It will be the largest peacetime maritime operation undertaken in Sydney Harbour and has relied on the cooperation of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the Port Authority of NSW to ensure its success.”
Last month the federal government placed a ban on all international arrivals to Australian cruise ports for at least 30 days and most cruise lines have suspended services for the time being.
However several ships were given “special permission” to dock in Australia, one of which was Ruby Princess, which has since led to 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths.
Featured image credit: iStock.com/Julien Viry