Australia Enforces Crew Welfare with 6-Month Ban for Tanker
Australian authorities continue the strict enforcement of maritime regulations with a focus on crew welfare. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) announced the first banning of a vessel in 2022 due to crew welfare issues after they banned four commercial ships in 2021 for safety and welfare violations.
“Australia has zero tolerance for the underpayment of crew. This type of behavior is unethical and in contravention of the MLC. The international conventions that protect seafarers’ rights are very clear,” said AMSA’s Executive Director of Operations Michael Drake. “AMSA takes the MLC seriously and actively ensures seafarers’ health and well-being is upheld on all ships in Australia. Ships visiting Australian ports are on notice that if we find deliberate underpaying of crew they can expect penalties.”
The vessel, a 105,400 dwt Liberian-registered product tanker named AG Neptune is banned from entering Australian ports for the next six months. AMSA announced the action the day after the tanker departed after a nearly month-long detention. The vessel is managed out of Singapore.
The tanker arrived at Australia’s Port of Gladstone on June 17 and AMSA inspectors boarded the vessel after hearing complaints regarding the underpayment of seafarers and welfare issues. The vessel had already been the center of other complaints in Australia. In May, a mediator was appointed to resolve claims by an Australian company that the vessel had delivered a contaminated cargo of diesel fuel.
During the June inspection, AMSA reports it found evidence the employment agreement with 21 seafarers on board the ship had not been met, and the crew members were collectively owed approximately A$123,000 (US$85,500). AMSA concluded that the seafarers were repeatedly not paid at regular intervals and two crew members had expired Seafarer Employment Agreements.
In addition, the AMSA inspectors found evidence the food and drinking water were not of appropriate quality, quantity, and nutritional value for seafarers. It’s also understood a seafarer was not provided with adequate medical care after being injured on board.
As a result, AMSA detained the ship for multiple breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), and the operator was directed to pay the outstanding wages and address the deficiencies.
The AG Neptune departed Gladstone on July 24 with her AIS reflecting that she is heading toward Singapore. As is common in these, cases AMSA issues the suspension after the vessels clear their detention and depart.
Last October, they issued a similar six-month ban for a Singapore-flagged bulker for labor and welfare violations. Two other bulkers and a livestock carrier received 18 and 36 months bans due to maintenance issues as well as labor and welfare issues.
This latest case marks the twenty-fifty ban AMSA has issued to a commercial vessel since 2014.