Australia orders repatriation of overworked seafarers

Nine Chinese and Filipino seafarers, some who have been on board their Panama-flagged cargo ship Brio Faith for 20 months with no leave, reunited with their families after an intervention by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Nine Chinese and Filipino seafarers, some who have been on board their Panama-flagged cargo ship Brio Faith for 20 months with no leave, reunited with their families after an intervention by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

AMSA inspected the ship in Port Alma, Queensland on 2 November where inspectors verified that three crew had been on board for over 12 months, four crew had been on board for over 16 months and two crew had been on board 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.

AMSA issued a direction notice, prohibiting the ship from departing until all nine seafarers had been repatriated. Those seafarers made their way to Brisbane where they embarked international flights home to their families.

AMSA Operations North Manager Greg Witherall said the wellbeing of seafarers was even more important now than ever before.

“Seafarers are keeping the world’s international shipping industry and economy going – they are critical,” 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. 20 months on board with no leave is completely unacceptable and will lead to increased risk of accidents.

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

The ship embarked fresh crew to meet its minimum manning requirements and departed on 4 November evening.

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