On 8 September 2017 the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) received a complaint that the bulk carrier DL Carnation had been underpaying its crew. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the vessel was keeping two sets of wage accounts and had been disguising the underpayment of crew in excess of US$17,000. The vessel was immediately detained for breach of Title 2, Regulation 2.2 of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) and released on 14 September following confirmation that the outstanding wages had been paid.
AMSA subsequently issued the vessel with a notice banning the vessel from entering or using any Australian port for 12 months.
This ban follows several other instances at Australian ports recently including the ban of the bulk carrier Rena and the issuance of deficiency notices on the bulk carrier Maratha Paramount. Both cases involved breaches in relation to unpaid crew wages and safe workplace obligations.
In Australia the MLC has been implemented through section 12 (ca) of the Navigation Act 2012 (Cth) and associated delegated legislation, such as Marine Order 11 (Living and working conditions on vessels) 2015. In accordance with Title 5, Regulation 5.1.3 of the MLC, all members must ensure that ships carry a Maritime labour certificate and declaration of maritime labour compliance.
The strong stance taken by AMSA in relation to crew welfare and compliance with national and international law follows, among other things, the Coronial Inquest in relation to the Sage Sagittarius as well the banning of the coal carrier Five Stars Fujian in mid-2016 for deficiencies in relation to wages and food supply.
AMSA’s position is reflected not only in relation to the MLC but by the other international conventions to which Australia is a party. AMSA is charged with the enforcement of the following conventions that have been adopted by Australian law.
- International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS),
- International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL),
- International Convention on Load Lines (CLL), and the
- International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).
As stated by AMSA’s General Manager of Operations, Allan Schwartz:
“Shipping companies should be aware that AMSA has the power to ban entire fleets if we uncover systemic issues within an operation and will not hesitate to do so where deliberate non-compliance is uncovered”.
For more information on Australian shipping regulations please contact the author or the Thomas Miller Law Sydney office.