Australia has banned the Liberian-flagged containership MSC Kia Ora from its ports for three months due violations of international crew welfare laws after the operator failed to pay crew wages in full and on time, in addition to other detainable deficiencies.
MSC Kia Ora is operated by Vega-Reederei, the same company which operated the Vega Auriga, which AMSA banned over repeat offenses in 2014.
The Australian Maritime Safety (AMSA) inspected the ship in the Port of Brisbane on Wednesday, 14 March 2018, after receiving a complaint alleging that crew had been underpaid.
During the inspection, AMSA found evidence that crew had been underpaid for the previous four months (November 2017 to February 2018) and were owed more than AU$53,000 (USD $40,700). The outstanding wages had been transferred to the crew just 24 hours before the inspection, according to the AMSA.
“Failure to pay crew their wages in full and on time is a clear and unacceptable breach of the Maritime Labour Convention,” AMSA’s General Manager of Operations Allan Schwartz said.
Further breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention, which is commonly referred to as the seafarers bill of rights, were also found during the inspection. They included violations related to hours of rest and fitness for duty, Schwartz said, placing the safety of the crew and the ship at risk.
The inspection also revealed that two of the ship’s four generators were defective as well as the starboard main engine fire damper.
In total, 24 deficiencies were issued to the MSC Kia Ora, and the ship was detained the same evening.
AMSA reinspected the MSC Kia Ora this past Sunday, 25 March 2018, and reported it was satisfied that all detainable deficiencies had been rectified. The ship was released from detention and immediately issued with a ban, preventing it from accessing Australian ports for a period of three months.
“Sub-standard and poorly managed ships that place the welfare of their crews at risk will not be tolerated in Australian waters,” Schwartz said.
Including the MSC Kia Ora, AMSA has banned five ships in the past two years.