Foreign Crew Involved in Near Miss Off WA Coast

The International Transport Workers’ Federation is calling on the Federal Government to tighten shipping regulation, rather than strip it back after a potentially fatal safety breach was found to have taken place aboard a foreign ship in Australian waters, outside of Fremantle. 

On Tuesday, a crew aboard foreign freighter, Sadlers Well, unlashed the ship’s cargo at sea compromising their own lives and the stability of the vessel, in contravention of both international and domestic laws.

The ITF believes that the cargo consisted of rail carriages, which would have sunk the ship if they shifted.

The breach was reported to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and came just one day after the Government revealed it would attack coastal shipping laws as part of the Budget.

ITF National Coordinator Dean Summers said he was calling on AMSA to come down hard on the ship’s management and detain the vessel until a full investigation into the event could be performed.

“AMSA should prosecute whoever is responsible for this reckless breach of safety,” Summers said.

“We’re seeing a massive increase in these kind of dodgy shipping practices as more and more foreign vessels visit the Australian coast.

“These foreign vessels flout laws and safety regulations because they can and the Australian Government is essentially giving them a free pass because some of the world’s most profitable companies have pressured them into complete deregulation.

“Well a complete free-for-all will be a disaster and it won’t be long until a ship like the Sadlers Well is involved in a disaster with loss of life, or massive environmental destruction in the form of an oil, or chemical spill.”

Due to safety and environmental reasons, Australian law requires that the loading and unloading vessels is undertaken by trained stevedores, with appropriate licenses and safety standards, once the vessel is safely in port as per Section 94 of the Navigation Act. Unlashing at sea is also prohibited by the international convention - Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).