Panama flagged bulk carrier DL Carnation has been barred from Australian waters for 12 months after the vessel was discovered keeping two sets of wage accounts, covering up the underpayment of the crew.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said it acted on a complaint received on Friday, September 8, via the International Transport Workers’ Federation alleging discrepancies in the payment of wages for the ship’s crew.
An AMSA surveyor attended the vessel in Gladstone and found that the ship was operating with two sets of wage accounts on board. One set of accounts showed the amount of pay the crew should have been receiving in line with their Seafarer Employment Agreements and the other showed what the crew were actually receiving, AMSA said.
A comparison of the accounts showed the crew were being underpaid in excess of USD 17,000 per month with records found reflecting this back to at least April of this year.
The vessel was immediately detained for breaching the Maritime Labour Convention.
“By maintaining multiple accounts of wages it demonstrates a knowledge and intent to not only withhold wages but to also actively deceive authorities,” AMSA’s General Manager of Operations, Allan Schwartz said.
“This is completely unacceptable behaviour and will not be tolerated in Australia.”
AMSA added that it received confirmation on Thursday, September 14, that the outstanding wages had been received by the crew and the vessel was released from detention at 2:30 pm.
Upon releasing the vessel from detention AMSA issued the master a direction notice banning the DL Carnation from entering or using any Australian port for 12 months.
“For a first breach AMSA’s response would normally be to detain the vessel until the problem is rectified,” Schwartz said.
“In this case, given the concerning existence of fake accounts and the intent to deceive authorities, AMSA has decided to issue a 12 month-ban to the DL Carnation and will increase inspections for all other vessels belonging to this company.”
“AMSA takes a zero tolerance approach to the mistreatment of crew and all vessels coming to our shores should be aware of the consequences.”
Furthermore, AMSA stressed that shipping companies should be aware that authority has the power to ban entire fleets if it uncovers systemic issues within an operation, noting that it would not “hesitate to do so where deliberate non-compliance is uncovered.”
The 2014-built 81,800 DWT ship is deployed on bareboat chater to Eastern Media International Corporation (EMIC). According to the vessel’s owner, Daelim Corporation from South Korea, the charterer “is responsible for operations and employment of crew of the vessel.”