A Panama flagged bulk carrier, DL Carnation, has been banned from entering Australian ports for a period of 12 months after authorities uncovered a scheme which saw the vessel’s crew being intentionally underpaid.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said it received a complaint on Friday, September 8 via the International Transport Workers’ Federation alleging discrepancies in the payment of wages for the crew of the DL Carnation. An AMSA surveyor attended the vessel in Gladstone and found that the ship was operating with two sets of wage accounts on board: one showing the amount of pay the crew should have been receiving in line with their Seafarer Employment Agreements, and the other showing what the crew was actually receiving.
A comparison of the accounts showed the crew was being underpaid in excess of $17,000 per month with records found reflecting this back to at least April of this year, AMSA said.
The vessel was immediately detained for breaching the Maritime Labor Convention.
AMSA’s General Manager of Operations, Allan Schwartz, said the keeping of two sets of accounts is extremely concerning. “By maintaining multiple accounts of wages it demonstrates a knowledge and intent to not only withhold wages but to also actively deceive authorities,” he said. “This is completely unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated in Australia.”
AMSA received confirmation on Thursday, September 14 that the outstanding wages had been received by the crew and the vessel was released from detention. 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.”
“Shipping companies should be aware that AMSA has the power to ban entire fleets if we uncover systemic issues within an operation and will not hesitate to do so where deliberate noncompliance is uncovered.”