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Second Vessel Banned From Australian Waters

Qatari-owned bulk carrier Maryam has been banned from Australian waters for three years over crew welfare abuses.

WOLLONGONG, Australia — Australian authorities have banned Qatari-owned bulk carrier Maryam from entering any Australian port for three years after major safety and maintenance issues were identified, along with crew welfare abuses.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represents hundreds of transport workers’ trade unions worldwide, claims Maryam was detained in Port Kembla in Wollongong in February.

Inspections by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority identified 36 safety, crew welfare, and maintenance breaches, with 23 seafarers owed tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding wages.

A lack of fuel left the vessel without lighting, air-conditioning, or power for refrigerators as authorities delivered urgent food and fuel supplies to the crew.

In recent weeks the vessel sailed to Brisbane. The International Transport Workers’ Federation claims the Maryam was now sailing to Vietnam to undertake urgent repairs following the replacement of the remaining crew members.

“The situation facing seafarers onboard was absolutely appalling, with the 23 crew members critically short of food, water, and fuel,” Ian Bray, Australia coordinator, International Transport Workers’ Federation said.

“The International Transport Workers’ Federation found that many of the seafarers were working well past the expiry of their contracts, desperate to go home and owed thousands of dollars in unpaid income.

Bray claimed that the state of the vessel was so bad its remaining anchor broke.

“The extremely poor state of maintenance was also highlighted when the vessel’s one remaining anchor broke free, resulting in Australian authorities having the crew sail 50 nautical miles (90km) offshore to reduce the risk of an engine failure causing the vessel to run aground,” he said.

The ban comes one month after a second bulk carrier Aswan Shipping, was issued an 18-month ban for similar deficiencies. (Pictured) General overview of operations at the Port Botany shipping terminal in Sydney. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP Image)

The ban comes one month after a second bulk carrier owned by the same company, Aswan Shipping, was issued an 18-month ban for similar deficiencies.

Bray claimed that the International Transport Workers’ Federation welcomed the record ban imposed against Aswan Shipping but warned the significant abuses were becoming increasingly common in Australia’s maritime supply chains.

He further claims Australia was one of the most significant users of shipping for imports and exports worldwide.

“Unfortunately, the situation on these Aswan Shipping vessels is becoming increasingly common, with Australia’s maritime supply chains increasingly reliant on flag-of-convenience vessels, registered in notorious tax havens and crewed by exploited workers paid as little as AU$2 ($1.55) per hour,” he said.

“While the situation onboard the Maryam was particularly shocking — resulting in the crew resigning and seeking support from Australian authorities to be repatriated home — we see a constant stream of similar cases in Australian ports.”

He added that the Australian government needs to crack down on such abuses, including allocating more resources to inspections and engaging in tougher enforcement of existing laws.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Pallavi Mehra. Map by Urvashi Makwana)