AMSA issued a direction notice, prohibiting the ship from departing until all nine seafarers had been repatriated.
Specifically, the Authority inspected the ship in Port Alma, Queensland on 2 November, where inspectors verified that three crew had been onboard for over 12 months, four crew had been onboard for over 16 months and two crew had been onboard for over 20 months.
During the inspection, the operator Tianjin Shun Xin Yuan Shipping Co LTD assured AMSA, and provided evidence, that crew would be repatriated the following day.
On 3 November, the operator informed AMSA that those repatriation plans had fallen through. The owners requested that the seafarers remain onboard until the next port, Shanghai.
AMSA did not accept this proposal due to the length of time the seafarers had already spent at sea and prohibited the ship from departing unless repatriation would take place immediately.
As a result, those nine seafarers are now making their way to Brisbane, where they will embark international flights home to their families.
Eventually, the ship embarked fresh crew to meet its minimum manning requirements and departed on Wednesday evening, 4 November.
It should be every operator’s and owner’s highest priority to ensure the welfare of their seafarers, and safety of their operations is maintained. 20 months onboard with no leave is completely unacceptable and will lead to increased risk of accidents,
…stated AMSA Operations North Manager Greg Witherall, with respect to this incident.
The incident comes amid a growing discussion across the industry, concerning a ‘humanitarian crisis’ which has left thousands of seafarers trapped onboard beyond acceptable limits, due to travel restrictions.
We will continue to enforce the Maritime Labour Convention, look after seafarers and ensure the safety of shipping.