As reported in yesterday’s Lloyd’s List Australia, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has banned the Liberia-flagged boxship Vega Auriga from Australia for three months.
Our sources indicate that AMSA has issued a direction to the container ship Vega Auriga that prohibits the ship from using or entering any Australian ports due to repeated breaches relating to seafarer welfare and maintenance of the ship. According to AMSA, the Vega Auriga has been detained by AMSA on three occasions since 25 July 2013 with repeated concerns for the welfare of the crew including improper payment of wages, inadequate living and working conditions and inadequate maintenance resulting in an unseaworthy and substandard vessel.
AMSA Ship Safety Division general manager Allan Schwartz said vessels entering Australian ports must ensure they meet minimum international standards. “Vessels that do not meet such standards, including standards for the welfare and treatment of crew, pose an increased risk to seafarers, safe operations and the marine environment.” “Australia is a signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and AMSA takes its responsibilities for ensuring compliance with all international safety conventions seriously.”
As some readers will be aware, Australian rules and regulations are comparatively strict both in relation to safety, cargo operations and protection of the environment. For instance, the Commonwealth’s Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 sets out strict liability offences for oil and oily water pollution attracting maximum fines of AUD 3.4 million for individuals and AUD 17 million for corporations.
Lloyd’s List Australia also reported that AMSA has unveiled a new policy describing AMSA’s approach to dealing with vessels that are repeatedly in breach of Port State Control. “The Navigation Act 2012 has given us good directions powers. When Port State Control fails, then we can say ‘you’re not welcome in Australian ports’. It’s about getting the message out that poor standards will not be tolerated,” the new CEO of AMSA, Mick Kinley asserted.
Owners, ship operators, their insurers and other interested parties who are involved in ship operation in Australian waters should be aware of AMSA’s policies in Australia and make sure they keep abreast of any changes which may be forthcoming in the near future.
Should you require any further information on this incident or on AMSA’s policies and power, as well as ship owners’ rights generally, please contact one of our team members.