Australian authorities have slapped a three-year ban on an Aswan Shipping bulk carrier in response to major safety and maintenance issues, along with crew welfare abuses.
The record-long ban on the 97,000-dwt bulker Maryam (built 2004) was issued on Monday by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the second ban it has levied on an Aswan vessel within a month.
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) said it would keep both ships under close scrutiny wherever they may trade in the future.
The Maryam was one of two Aswan ships whose crews called in the ITF at the beginning of the year to help with a litany of problems ranging from unsafe working and living conditions to unpaid wages and other Maritime Labour Convention abuses, including expired contracts.
The crews did not just want the issues resolved, they also demanded they be sent home.
The Maryam was detained at Port Kembla in February while the ITF and AMSA attempted to work through an assortment of troubles ranging from faulty engines and generators, a lack of fuel and food, and outstanding wage issues.
ITF Australia coordinator Ian Bray told TradeWinds in March that the lack of electricity had put the crew’s welfare and mental health in serious jeopardy.
“They could not even have showers and to flush the ship’s toilets they had to lift buckets of water from the sea below,” he explained.
A portable generator was brought in to provide power to the vessel, and Port Authority New South Wales stepped in to provide fuel, food and bottled water.
The ship was later moved to Brisbane before departing Australian waters on Sunday.
“After more than three months in detention, with much of that time spent floating off Port Kembla and Brisbane, the remaining seafarers have finally been able to leave the vessel and fly home, with a replacement crew taking the bulk carrier for urgent repairs,” Bray said on Monday.
The Maryam’s AIS transponder showed the vessel off the Australian coast on Monday, heading for Dung Quat in Vietnam.
AMSA had banned Aswan’s 91,800-dwt bulker Movers 3 (built 2002) for 18 months on 3 May after it was released from a two-month detention.
The vessel had been detained while anchored off Weipa, Queensland, waiting to load coal. Its crew sent out an SOS with a list of complaints similar to that of the Maryam’s crew.
AMSA deputy chief executive officer Sachi Wimmer said at the time that the ban against the Movers 3 had been issued because Aswan had shown a “complete disregard” for its obligations to provide decent working and living conditions for its seafarers.
“Aswan Shipping’s neglect has resulted in a difficult two months for the seafarers on Movers 3, let alone the effort required by many organisations to support them during this time,” Wimmer said.
Bray, expressing similar sentiments on Monday, said the ITF welcomed the lengthy ban imposed against the Maryam, but warned that the significant abuses were becoming increasingly common in Australia’s maritime supply chains.
“While the situation on board the Maryam was particularly shocking — resulting in the crew resigning and seeking support from Australian authorities to be repatriated home — we are seeing a constant stream of similar cases in Australian ports,” he said.
Both the ITF and VesselsValue list both vessels as being owned by Aswan Contracting & Trading of Doha, Qatar.
Aswan could not be reached for comment outside of office hours on Monday.