Australia Bans Bulk Carrier Over Unpaid Wages

rena bulk carrier detained australia
MV Rena. Photo: MarineTraffic.com /

Australia has banned the Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier MV Rena from entering its ports after the ship owner repeatedly failed to pay wages to its crew and did not maintain a safe workplace.

The 6-month ban was handed down by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority following a complaint from the International Transport Workers Federation alleging that the crew had not been paid in several months.

Following the complaint, AMSA conducted a Port State Control inspection of the ship when it arrived at Hay Point in Queensland on 6 July. The inspection revealed a number of serious deficiencies, such as failure to start the emergency generator, failure of life boat starting arrangements, short comings in the safety management system (ISM), and failure to pay crew wages which the AMSA said totaled 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. Failure to pay crew their total wages is a clear and unacceptable breach of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006,” the AMSA said. 

The AMSA said the deficiencies were serious enough to warrant immediate detention at Hay Point, where the MV Rena remained detained for 29 days until the operator provided evidence that the crew had been paid their outstanding wages.

The detention was actually the second time the ship had been detained in Australia this year. Back in February, MV Rena was at Port Adelaide over serious deficiencies including crew working too many hours.

AMSA’s General Manger of Operations, Allan Schwartz, said the behavior of the ship’s owners gave AMSA considerable cause for concern, but was appreciative to the Bahamas Maritime Authority for its active role in resolving the issues. “The failure of the ship operator to ensure that the ship is effectively managed along with the repeated failures of the ISM Code and Maritime Labour Convention, is a clear indication the ship is not being operated to meet applicable minimum standards. The length of time taken to rectify the outstanding issues, particularly in relation to crew welfare, is completely unacceptable,” Schwartz said.

MV Rena’s ban will expire on 3 February 2018. If the ship returns to Australia after the ban expires and is found with more serious deficiencies, it could be subject to a another ban of 12 months.