A Magistrates Court in Perth, Australia has convicted the Master and operator of a Cyprus-flagged cargo ship following an accident involving a substandard pilot ladder.
The case was presented by Australia’s maritime safety regulator, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
AAL Dampier Navigation Co Ltd, the company behind the ship, AAL Dampier, and the ship’s Master were found guilty of breaching safety regulations that led to the accident in August 2022.
The incident occurred as the AAL Dampier was departing the Port of Fremantle on August 24, 2022. A marine pilot, while in the process disembarking the vessel, was injured after falling from a faulty pilot ladder. The ropes snapped, causing him to fall about 7 meters onto the deck of the pilot boat.
The pilot was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
Following the accident, AMSA officials and investigators boarded the ship for inspection. They discovered and seized a segment of the ropes, which upon examination, were found to be seriously defective and clearly unfit for purpose. The neglect of proper storage and ineffectual inspection routines were identified as the probable cause of the poor state of the rope.
AAL Dampier Navigation acknowledged its failure to adhere to Marine Order 21 (Safety and Emergency Arrangements) 2016. The company pled guilty to not having complied with regulations for pilot transfer procedures. The court ordered the company to pay a fine of $30,500.
The vessel’s Master faced charges for not ensuring a safe disembarkation process for the pilot, as mandated by Marine Order 21 (Safety and Emergency Arrangements) 2016. Additionally, he was held accountable under the Navigation Act 2012 for taking an unfit vessel to sea. He pled guilty to both counts and was imposed a cumulative fine of $5,500.
Michael Drake, AMSA Executive Director of Operations, said he was pleased with the verdict and emphasized the importance of safety measures in the high-risk job of marine pilots.
“AMSA is a strict but just regulator. We will not waver in our commitment to avert risks to human life, be it a pilot or a mariner,” said Drake.
The conviction serves as a stark reminder to all vessels and seafarers of their duty to uphold maritime safety standards.
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