Australia Bans Livestock Carrier for Two Years Over Maintenance Issues

barkly pearl
Image courtesy Western Australia Department of Transport

Published Jan 8, 2021 12:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Australian government's maritime safety regulator has banned the livestock carrier Barkly Pearl from Australian ports for two years, citing maintenance deficiencies.

The Barkly Pearl was spotted on November 3, 2020, traveling through Australia’s northern waters with a large hole in her hull. With serious concerns over the vessel's structural integrity, the risk to her crew and the potential for pollution, the Australian Maritime Safety Administration (AMSA) instructed the vessel to make for the nearest harbor of refuge at the Port of Geraldton. 

After two months of deliberation and work, the Barkly Pearl was loaded onto the semi-submersible heavy lift ship Falcon for removal from Australian waters. An earlier loading attempt last weekend was aborted due to poor weather conditions, but the vessel was successfully loaded out on January 7. The large hole in Barkly Pearl's starboard side still appeared to be visible in video released by AMSA on Friday


Prior to the vessel's departure, AMSA issued a refusal of access notice banning her from Australian ports for 24 months. 

"This is a significant decision by AMSA.  It’s the first time a vessel has been banned from Australian ports for this length of time and it will certainly affect the vessel’s commercial operations," said AMSA general manager of operations Allan Schwartz. "The Australian community expects that any vessel operating or travelling through our waters is seaworthy. Consequently, when vessels are found to be so poorly maintained, AMSA will not hesitate to use the suite of powers available to it."

Schwartz alleged that the owners and operators of the Barkly Pearl were negligent in maintenance of the vessel, putting the crew and the environment at risk. Beyond the hull plating breach, AMSA did not identify specific maintenance deficiencies; the vessel's last inspection at the port of Darwin found issues with access/structural features, the vessel's emergency fire pump and its rescue boats.