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China-owned vessel with overdue crew held in Australia

Nine seafarers had been on board with no leave for as long as 20 months. The owner had assured the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and provided evidence they would be repatriated, but later claimed those plans had fallen through

Vessel operator Tianjin Shun Xin Yuan Shipping tried to make a request for the seafarers to stay on board until the next port of call in Shanghai, but this was rejected by AMSA and the vessel was detained. The overdue crew was subsequently taken off and are on their way home, while fresh crew was found to meet minimum manning requirements and the vessel departed on Wednesday

YET another China-owned vessel has fallen foul of Australian authorities, with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority detaining the 9,032 dwt general cargo vessel Brio Faith for having crew on board for as long as 20 months without leave.

AMSA said in a press release that it had ordered the vessel to repatriate nine Chinese and Filipino seafarers who have been on board the 2009-built, Panama-flagged ship Brio Faith for periods of much more than a year with no leave.

During an inspection at Port Alma in Queensland earlier this week inspectors verified that three crew had been on board for more than a year, four had been on board for over 16 months and two had been on board for more than 20 months.

The vessel’s owner and operator, Tianjin Shun Xin Yuan Shipping, assured the AMSA and provided evidence that crew would be repatriated the following day, but on November 3 said that those repatriation plans had fallen through and requested the seafarers remain on board until the next port of call in Shanghai.

AMSA did not accept this proposal because of the length of time the seafarers had already spent at sea and prohibited the ship from departing until all the overdue seafarers had been repatriated.

They are now making their way to Brisbane where they will embark international flights to their home countries. Meanwhile, Brio Faith embarked fresh crew to meet its minimum manning requirements and departed on Wednesday evening.

AMSA Operations North manager Greg Witherall said: “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” adding that a period of 20 months on board with no leave “is completely unacceptable and will lead to increased risk of accidents”.

He reiterated: “We will continue to enforce the Maritime Labour Convention, look after seafarers and ensure the safety of shipping.”

Australian authorities have detained a string of vessels for MLC and other violations in recent months.

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