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Monday, September 1, 2014

container vessel denied entry in Australia heading for New Zealand - Maritime labour convention

Ships are majestic – carry thousands of tons of cargo from place – are the economic bone of many trades – they are big in size – their sailing and calling at Ports as per schedule may never make news !  .... some accidents and some strange incidents would !!!!

The Bay of Plenty is a large indentation in the northern coast of New Zealand's North Island stretching from the Coromandel Peninsula. The Bay of Plenty was the first part of New Zealand to be settled, by the Māori the name originated with James Cook during his exploration of New Zealand, who noted the abundant resources in the area.  Tauranga is the most populous city in the Bay of Plenty region.   This fast growing fashion city has a booming harbour. Earlier I had posted something about this as it was here MV Reena got struck….

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is an International Labour Organization convention established in 2006 embodying  "all up-to-date standards of existing international maritime labour Conventions and Recommendations, as well as the fundamental principles to be found in other international labour Conventions”.  The convention entered into force on in Aug 2013, a year after registering 30 ratifications of countries representing over 33 per cent of the world gross tonnage of ships. As of August 2014, the convention has been ratified by 64 states representing 80 per cent of global shipping.

The Maritime Labour Convention establishes minimum working and living standards for all seafarers working on ships flying the flags of ratifying countries. It’s also an essential step forward in ensuring a level-playing field for countries and ship owners who, until now, have paid the price of being undercut by those who operate substandard ships.  Widely known as the “seafarers’ bill of rights,” the MLC, 2006  provides uniform standards globally. It is unique in that it aims both to achieve decent work for seafarers and to secure economic interests through fair competition for quality ship owners.

~ and the news is about a container ship banned from entering Australian ports over welfare breaches has had its arrival in Tauranga delayed by heavy seas.  The Australian Maritime Safety Authority prohibited container vessel ‘Vega Auriga’ from using or entering any Australian ports due to repeated breaches relating to seafarer welfare and maintenance of the ship. The authority had earlier detained Vega Auriga three times since July 2013, with repeated concerns about crew welfare including improper payment of wages, inadequate living and working conditions and inadequate maintenance resulting in an unseaworthy and substandard vessel. The ship which had been banned for three months can re-enter only after the authority is satisfied it has met its standards.  The minimum international standards the Australians enforce include standards for the welfare and treatment of crew, and ships that don't meet the crew standards are deemed to pose an increased risk to seafarers, safe operations and the marine environment.

“Seafarer welfare is just as important as the proper maintenance of ship equipment, and an integral part of safe operations. A failure in either system could lead to serious accidents,” says general manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's ship safety division.  The container vessel had been found deficient including faults with fire doors, detection and alarm systems, availability of fire-fighting equipment, chart and compass issues, cleanliness in food storage areas and the operational readiness of life rafts.

The container vessel built in 2006 with 11809 DWT Container Carrier is  Liberian flagged but German-owned Vega Auriga was due to dock today at Tauranga but is now expected tomorrow, a Maritime New Zealand spokesperson is quoted as saying. It had sailed from Brisbane, where it had been inspected and banned, and headed to Noumea and is now in the Tasman Sea. Like the Rena, which ran aground and sank off Tauranga in 2011, Vega Auriga is Filipino-crewed. Seafarers live a tough life under even the best of circumstances, spending many months at sea away from family and friends and they certainly deserve some basic level of safety if not comfort.  Before it sank the Rena was also detained several times in Australia. The Vega Auriga listed agent in New Zealand is the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the same company that chartered the ill-fated Rena. It is stated that the marine watchdog In New Zealand  was aware the ship was heading to Tauranga and would inspect it on arrival.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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