Australia Bans Bulker for a Year When Ship Fails to Provide Repair Updates

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The Australia Maritime Safety Authority kicked off 2024 by issuing its first ban against a ship as part of its ongoing enforcement efforts. The authority highlights that it does not hesitate to take swift and appropriate actions against what it deems unsafe ships, although in this case, it has been dealing with a broken-down vessel for more than four months.

The Liberian-registered bulk carrier KMAX Leader (91,800 dwt) arrived in Gladstone in late October. Built in 2010, the vessel is managed out of the Philippines. After arriving in Australia, the agent advised AMSA that the ship was experiencing “unidentified engine room vibrations,” and work had commenced on the mechanical issues. According to AMSA, they were advised it would require eight to 10 days.

“The ship was left disabled in the Port of Gladstone during cyclone season, presenting a very real risk to safety within the port,” says AMSA. A “refusal of access Direction” was issued to the ship and its owners effective February 15 AMSA reports, “as a result of serious safety violations and breaches of Australian legislation committed by the ship’s master and owner while in Gladstone Harbour.”

AMSA reports that they issued multiple notices to the ship requiring the ship’s classification society to conduct a damage survey and report on repair work. They also required the ship to advise AMSA of towage arrangements and an updated repair plan.

“The lack of information forthcoming from the owners of KMAX Leader has been very disappointing,” said Michael Drake, AMSA Executive Director Operations. “AMSA expects all ship operators and masters to engage promptly, transparently, and meaningfully.”

Since the ship’s arrival in Gladstone, two cyclones impacted the Queensland coast according to AMSA with the ship continuing to be waiting for repairs.

Smit Lamnalco Australia reports six of its tugs were engaged on February 4 for a dead ship tow. They repositioned the KMAX Leader into the anchorage. Subsequently, the vessel left under tow, and then under the regulations, AMSA issued a 12-month ban for the ship preventing it from entering Australian ports.

According to Drake, international standards are “not optional.”

AMSA issued a total of nine bans against ships mostly for maintenance issues as well as wage violations in 2023. The pace of the bans increased compared to only two issued in 2022 and four in 2021. Since 2020, AMSA has issued 20 bans against ships that it found unsafe or in violation of labor regulations.

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