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Australia bans bulk carrier over unpaid wages

Australia bans bulk carrier over unpaid wages

CANBERRA: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has banned the Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier MV Rena from Australian ports for six months after the ship repeatedly failed to pay outstanding wages and maintain a safe workplace for its crew. AMSA received a complaint from the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) on June 30 alleging the crew had not been paid their wages for several months. AMSA conducted a port state control inspection when the ship arrived at Hay Point in Queensland on 6 July, issuing a number of serious deficiencies including; Failure of the emergency generator to start; Failure of the life boat starting arrangements; Short comings in the safety management system (ISM); and Failure to pay crew the cash component of their wages which totalled about $53,000.

The emergency generator, lifeboat and safety management system deficiencies presented a clear risk to the health and safety of the crew, the ship and Australia’s marine environment, says AMSA. Failure to pay crew their total wages is a clear breach of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. The deficiencies were serious enough to warrant immediate detention of the ship at Hay Point. The ship, owned and operated by Greece-based Trojan Maritime, had also been detained by AMSA earlier this year in February at Port Adelaide for a number of serious deficiencies, including crew working excess hours. The 751-foot ,81,700dwt MV Rena remained detained at Hay Point for 29 days until AMSA and the vessel’s flag state received evidence that the crew had been paid their outstanding wages on August 3.

AMSA’s General Manger of Operations, Allan Schwartz, said the behavior of the ship’s owners gave AMSA considerable cause for concern but expressed appreciation to the Bahamas Maritime Authority for taking an active role in resolving the issues. In 2015, the bulk carrier was detained in the Port of Tacoma after U.S. Coast Guard port state control inspectors found multiple safety deficiencies including the improper pressurization of the crew’s self-contained breathing apparatuses, which would prevent the crew from safely responding to a fire aboard the vessel. The MV Rena should not to be confused with the Greek-owned container vessel of the same name that ran aground off New Zealand in 2011.