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Australia Continues to Crackdown on Unsafe Ships

MV BBC Weser. Photo: Kick van den Dool / MarineTraffic.com

Australia Continues to Crackdown on Unsafe Ships

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2421
June 7, 2023

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has taken further action against ship operators failing to meet safety standards by imposing a 90-day ban on the Antigua Barbuda-flagged general cargo ship BBC Weser from Australian waters.

The decision to ban the vessel was made after an inspection revealed that it was in an “unsafe and unseaworthy” condition, posing an unacceptable risk to Australia’s marine and coastal environments. This marks the second ship banned by AMSA within a week, following the 90-day ban imposed on the Babuza Wisdom due to numerous deficiencies, including a faulty rescue boat engine

The BBC Weser was detained by AMSA in May 2023 after inspectors discovered a significant number of defective ballast air vents on board. These vents are essential safety components that prevent water from entering the ship while allowing air to escape, thus avoiding the development of dangerous vacuums within the tanks.

The ship’s operator, Briese Heavylift GmbH & Co, has a track record of poor performance, with one in five of their ships having been detained in Australia since May 2021. This detention rate is over three times higher than the average for ships visiting Australian waters.

AMSA had previously warned Briese Heavylift GmbH & Co twice about their poor performance and the potential consequences of further detentions or more severe compliance and enforcement measures. Earlier detentions were a result of defective emergency generators and unsafe work platforms, which led to a crew member suffering critical injuries while working on one of their ships.

Briese Heavylift GmbH & Co. is one of 18 operators that the AMSA has issued letters of warning to in relation to serious deficiencies since last September. The letter means that the company’s ships are eligible for inspection every three months as part of ongoing AMSA compliance activities.

Michael Drake, AMSA’s Executive Director of Operations, said the ban on the BBC Weser sends a clear message to the operator and the wider shipping industry that sub-standard ships will not be tolerated in Australian waters.

“The defects on the BBC Weser are especially concerning, as they are detainable deficiencies that would have been obvious to anyone onboard, and that the operator could not have pleaded ignorance to,” Drake said. “AMSA has a world-class reputation for being a tough-but-fair safety regulator, and we are dedicated to meeting international standards for safety in shipping.”

“Sub-standard ships and their operators have been warned,” Drake concluded.

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