Maritime authorities take action against misguided ship
WEDNESDAY 2PM: THE Australian Maritime Safety Authority detained the container ship SNL Colombo in Brisbane, the day after it passed within one kilometre of South Solitary Island.
Concerns were raised after the general cargo container ship travelled some 25km off course and prior to correcting its course passed within metres of inshore reefs and the Solitary Islands chain last month.
"As a result of the potential risk of the ship grounding, AMSA conducted a Port State Control inspection when the ship docked at its next port of call, Brisbane on the morning of April 15," AMSA said in a statement today.
The maritime authority said AMSA engineers who boarded the ship identified nine deficiencies, including the crew's safe navigation of the ship.
"AMSA surveyors determined that the ship's failure to maintain its intended course was the result of the crew not observing normal navigational practices or the on board documented procedures.
"The ship was detained on the basis that its navigation practices and safety management system were inadequate.
"The vessel was released from detention late on April 15, following an independent audit to rectify the identified deficiencies and to put in place on going corrective actions," the authority said.
Carrying general cargo at the time, the 53,000 tonne ship SNL Colombo is Greek-owned, registered in Liberia and was being crewed by Ukrainian/Russian seafarers.
MONDAY 1PM: A CONTAINER ship almost ran aground off Coffs Harbour after steering off course last month, the Australian Maritime Union is reporting.
The Greek owned SNL Colombo passed dangerously close to the harbour entrance, well inside the Solitary Islands chain.
The ship, transporting cargo to Brisbane, reportedly passed extremely close to the rocky outcrop Pig Island, according to a representation plotting the ship's course that's been released today by the International Transport Workers Union.
"On April 14 a 53,000 ton container ship almost ran aground off Coffs Harbour," ITWU coordinator Dean Summers said.
"The Greek-owned, Liberian-registered ship, crewed with Ukrainian and Russian seafarers came very close to hitting the coast after being 24 kilometres off course on her way up the Australian coast.
"This is the standard of foreign shipping that's encouraged to come onto the Australian coast and replace our domestic fleet," he said in releasing details on the incident.
"The net result for Australia is a near miss with the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars damage."
Mr Summers drew a link between this close call and an incident in New Zealand in 2011 where the MV Rena container ship ran aground off Tauranga resulting in an oil spill that cost $130 million to contain.
The 2010 oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef, involving the Chinese bulk coal carrier MV Shen Neng 1 east of Rockhampton happened after the ship strayed just 10km outside its shipping lane and struck a reef.
Coffs Harbour-based NSW Water Police Supervisor Sergeant Don Stewart said the ship's close proximity to the coastline was initially phoned in by a surfer at Sawtell.
From there the ship was tracked visually by Marine Rescue NSW volunteers at the Coffs Harbour base.
"For a ship to be in such close proximity to land was quite unusual, particularly off Coffs Harbour, given our coastline is littered with reefs and shallow shoals," Srgt Stewart said.
"When the incident was called in to Marine Rescue over the radio, they monitored the ship's movements during the minutes it passed by Coffs Harbour.
"At one point it was estimated this ship's proximity was around three nautical miles off the entrance to the harbour, which could have been extraordinarily dangerous.
"We monitored the ship's movements north and reported the incident to Australian Border Force to inform Australian Customs and it is my understanding the ship was later boarded at Brisbane," Srgt. Stewart said.