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Australia Orders Port to Dock Cargo Ship for Engine Repairs

AMSA orders port to accept ship for repairs
ICS Silver Spirit docked in Albany, Australia for engine repairs (file photo from Inco Ships)

Published Feb 10, 2023 12:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

Authorities in Australia have moved to avert a potential environmental incident by ordering a port authority in Western Australia to allow a stricken cargo vessel to dock for repairs. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said that it has issued a legal direction to the Albany Port Authority to allow the ICS Silver Spirit, a cargo ship that was experiencing engine failure and at risk of grounding, to enter the port for repairs.

AMSA said it had received a report that the Bahamas-registered cargo vessel was experiencing reduced speed after anchoring to undertake engine maintenance. The 13,479 dwt vessel remained at anchor for four days and reported to the authorities that it was continuing to have engine issues that require further repair. The vessel had arrived earlier this week anchoring about 12 miles from the entrance to the port. 

The ICS Silver Spirit, built in 2006, is a 447-foot general cargo ship operated by Inco Ships headquartered in Sydney, Australia. The ship departed the Netherlands on December 27, making its way through the Suez Canal before arriving off Australia. She was bound for Hobart. 

“We have significant concerns about the condition of the ICS Silver Spirit, and no one wants to see this vessel run aground,” said Mark Morrow, Maritime Emergency Response Commander for AMSA. “As such, AMSA has taken decisive action to direct the Port Authority to accept this vessel.”

He added that AMSA has been monitoring the situation of the cargo ship over the past few days and will continue to work with all stakeholders, including the Western Australian Government, to ensure the vessel and its crew arrive safely in port.

Located about 250 miles south of Perth, Western Australia, the port of Albany is a bulk products port handling grain, woodchips, and silica sand as the majority of its exports, while fertilizer and fuel are the port’s primary imports. The port authority which operates the port which typically handles about 150 ships, said they welcomed the vessel which has now docked at Albany. The said exploratory work and planning were proceeding.

AMSA’s decision to act was in part due to an increased frequency of casualty events involving merchant vessels AMSA said it has been observing over the past 12 months. The common denominator contributing to these events is failures of a vessel’s power generation and/or main engines AMSA noted saying that will continue to place a greater focus on planned maintenance of propulsion and auxiliary systems.