Ship stranded off Gladstone 'banned' from Australia

UPDATE: 5pm: 

AUSTRALIA'S peak maritime authority banned the Five Stars Fujian from Australian ports as "traditional compliance and regulation" had failed.

AMSA's chief told The Observer this afternoon that it is one of only seven occasions that the organisation has banned a ship since they were given the powers three years ago.

General  manager of ship safety Allan Schwartz, who made the call to ban the Chinese owned ship, said the length of time it took to find a solution was "extraordinary".

He said the ship's owner was involved in all of AMSA correspondence with other stakeholders, including the operator, the charterer, the Chinese consulate, and Hong Kong's maritime authority.

AUG. 31 | Lifeline for crew stranded off the port of Gladstone

AUG. 22 | 'Abandoned': Union wants crew transported to Gladstone

AUG. 16 | 'No end in sight': Stranded crew won't leave until wages paid

AUG. 15 | 'Intervene quickly': Hong Kong targets stranded ship owner

AUG. 13 | No food, no wages: Crew stranded off Queensland coast

The stranded Five Stars Fujian has been sitting off Queensland's coast since July 19.
The stranded Five Stars Fujian has been sitting off Queensland's coast since July 19.

He said the operators, "essentially the agents of the owner", were one of the main players who helped find a solution.

"They were certainly very useful because they were a conduit between all of the parties," he said.

Mr Schwartz said he wasn't privy to information on the owner's financial circumstances, but "messages from various source and other indications" suggested they were in financial trouble.

He also confirmed that Rio Tinto, who owned the coal, had a free on-board shipping agreement with the buyer, meaning a transaction between the pair took place once the coal was loaded.


IN A sensational climax to the Five Stars Fujian saga, the nation's chief maritime authority has banned the vessel from Australian ports for 12 months.

The ban, issued by AMSA this afternoon, follows a month-and-a-half-long deadlock during which the Chinese owners of the ship  refused to pay the crew's wages, refuel the ship or re-stock food supplies. 

AMSA has also revealed that the ship's owner is Five Stars Fujian Shipping Co.

"The crew of the Five Stars Fujian have been forsaken off the Australian coast for over two months, with limited supplies and thousands of dollars of unpaid wages," AMSA's general manager of ship safety Allan Schwartz said.

"This is a completely unacceptable way for a company to treat their crew and this kind of conduct will not be tolerated in Australia.

"The amount of time it has taken has been extraordinary."

The ship, which was first detained by order of the Federal Court in July, was released this month.

But AMSA detained the ship days later when inspectors found there was not enough food on board to sustain the crew for the 16-day journey back to Hong Kong and the crew's wages had not been paid.

On Monday, the vessel's charterer agreed to pay two months wages, refuel the ship and re-stock food supplies, which happened today, according to AMSA.

AMSA officials inspected the ship this morning and released it from detention at 1pm.

AMSA immediately issued the ship's master with a direction notice banning the operator from bringing the vessel to an Australian port for a year.

Mr Schwartz, who made the call to ban the vessel, said:

"AMSA hopes that this banning will serve as a warning to other shipping companies that if they wish to do business in Australian waters they must abide by their international obligations and manage their crew in a proper manner."

More to come

Windy conditions ahead for Gladstone’s coast

Premium Content Windy conditions ahead for Gladstone’s coast

Here’s what’s in store for Gladstone as a system that has caused widespread...

Former Gladstone teacher shares secret to long career

Premium Content Former Gladstone teacher shares secret to long career

Michele Adamson’s new book “10 Steps to Thrive in Teaching” is a must read.

Woman argues with magistrate over drugs

Premium Content Woman argues with magistrate over drugs

The magistrate didn’t buy Kerry Eileen Thomas’s excuse.