Photo credit: Spliethoff Group

Australia Bans Dutch Ship Amid Crackdown on ‘Poor Performers’

Mike Schuler
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March 20, 2023

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has handed down a 90-day ban to a Netherlands-flagged ship as part of a crackdown on “poor performers” in the maritime industry.  

AMSA detained the general cargo ship Flevogracht, operated by the Spliethoff Group, after the ship’s rescue boat engine was found to be defective. 

AMSA had previously issued Spliethoff with two warning letters outlining concerns over the seaworthiness of their ships. This latest incident is part of a pattern of unacceptable performance from the operator, that poses a risk to the integrity of the ship, the safety of the crew, and the marine environment, AMSA said.  

The latest marks AMSA’s fifth detention of Spliethoff ships in the past two years. Three of the detentions were related to serious failures to effectively implement Safety of Navigation processes and all occurred in Queensland waters, around the Great Barrier Reef. 

On February 16, the Master of the Florijngracht was fined $6,000 for breaching compulsory pilotage laws after the ship illegally entered the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park without a marine pilot. 

AMSA Executive Director of Operations Michael Drake said AMSA takes its responsibility as Australia’s maritime regulator very seriously. 

“The fact that Spliethoff ships continue to be detained is evidence of their ongoing and repeated lack of concern for safety and environmental protection,” Drake said. “The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s great natural wonders, and we have an obligation to ensure that any ships entering its waters do so safely and in full compliance of the law.”

The ban of the Flevogracht comes just weeks after AMSA issued a 90-day ban to the MSC Kymea II, operated by MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), over maintenance and safety-related deficiencies. The ban followed the detention of nine MSC-operated ships in the past two years, including five so far in 2023.

“Ship operators should be on notice that AMSA will not hesitate to take action when we find unacceptable practices on board ships,” Drake said.

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