At a time when seafarers are literally at sea, stranded by ports refusing to allow them to disembark because of Covid-19, Australia has stepped into the breach on behalf of mariners it says are being underpaid in its territorial waters.
This comes after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) announced that it had placed a six-month ban on the bulk carrier Agia Sofia.
Owned by Cyprian company Marmaras Navigation, it’s not the first time Amsa has taken action against the company.
Previously another bulker owned by Marmaras, the Koundourous, was also detained for the same reason.
Amsa claims it found that seafarers on board the 82 000-dead-weight tonne Agia Sofia were owed at least $32 100 in outstanding pay at the time the vessel was detained at Hay Point port in Queensland.
Michael Drake, Amsa’s acting general manager of operations, told an ocean freight portal that the Koundourous had been fortunate that it had been allowed to leave Australian waters after it had settled the outstanding amount on its seafarers’ balance sheet.
“Bringing a second ship, Agia Sofia, to Australia with the same breach is inexcusable and has left us with little choice but to ban this ship from Australian ports,” journalist Jason Jiang wrote.