Australia Bans Bulker for Failing to Properly Disclose Engine Problems

Australia banned the bulker for failing to report known problems with its propulsion systems and for repeated maintenance issues (AMSA)

Published May 9, 2024 12:55 PM by The Maritime Executive


The issue of when shipowners became aware of problems with a vessel’s machinery and the steps they took to disclose and address the problems has come to the forefront several times and now the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) banned a ship over these concerns. The organization notes the potential safety risks to the ship, crew, and the environment while saying it believes the operator, in this case Anglo-Eastern Ship Management (India) had been notified of “serious safety concerns” before the arrival in Australia.

Similar issues are at the forefront of the investigation into the containership Dali and its March 2024 allision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. Media reports have contended that power alarms were sounding on the Dali while it was docked in Baltimore. Among the issues the National Transportation Safety Board, and now the Federal Bureau of Investigations, are looking at are the maintenance records of the Dali to determine if the vessel was experiencing possible electrical system issues before its departure.

In announcing its actions against the Indian-flagged bulker Darya Shaan (25,953 dwt), AMSA alleges the problems aboard the vessel were known prior to its arrival at the Port of Melbourne on April 26, 2024. AMSA inspectors found what they termed “multiple maintenance issues on board.”

“If Anglo Eastern had complied with its obligations and reported the defects, AMSA would not have detained the vessel under port state control procedures. We would have worked with the operator constructively and pragmatically to ensure the ship was safe and met convention requirements,” said Michael Drake, Executive Director of Operations for AMSA.

During the inspection of the vessel built in 2009 and now carrying cement, AMSA says it identified defective main engine control and monitoring systems, a faulty engine room alarm monitoring system, and defective starting arrangements for two generators. The inspectors also reported a failure to maintain the ship after a survey, and a safety management system that failed to ensure the ship was maintained and that defects were appropriately reported. A total of 19 deficiencies were identified resulting in the detention. 

AMSA had warned ship owners and operators in November 2022 that during Port State Control inspections it would be placing a greater focus on planned maintenance of propulsion and auxiliary equipment and associated systems. This came after the pandemic which they said had created challenges to effective maintenance. At the time they said recent incidents had demonstrated the potentially serious consequences of a lack of effective maintenance.

“The fact that this operator knew about these defects and did not report them to AMSA is appalling and deserving of a 180-day ban,” said Drake. “This was a clear attempt to conceal serious defects to Australian authorities and demonstrates a disregard for the safety of the ship, its crew, and the marine environment. These defects could cause the ship to lose power during critical navigation, such as in a narrow channel, resulting in a grounding, or collision with another ship or structure.”

The Darya Shaan cleared its detention and departed Melbourne on May 7 bound for Sri Lanka. AMSA slapped a 180-day ban from Australian waters on the vessel citing the repeated risks to the safety of the crew, vessel, and Australian marine environment.

It is the second ban Australia has issued against a merchant ship in 2024. Nine bans were issued in 2023. AMSA has a reputation for strict enforcement to ensure safety and compliance with labor regulations.