Ship banned from Australia heading to NZ

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 14:06 28/08/2014
Vega Auriga

NZ-BOUND: The Vega Auriga has been barred from every port in Australia.

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A container ship banned from entering Australian ports over welfare breaches is heading toward Tauranga.

The vessel is the Liberian flagged but German-owned Vega Auriga and is due to dock at 6pm on Saturday, a Maritime New Zealand spokesman said.

Until earlier today it had been bound for Auckland.

Its listed agent in New Zealand is the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the same company that chartered the ill-fated Rena.

The 11,809 deadweight ton, built in 2006, carries a mixed cargo in containers.

The spokesman said the marine watchdog was aware the ship was heading to Tauranga and would inspect it on arrival.

It had sailed from Brisbane, where it had been inspected and banned, and headed to Noumea and is now in the Tasman Sea.

Like the Rena, which ran aground and sank off Tauranga in 2011, Vega Auriga is Filipino crewed.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) yesterday prohibited Vega Auriga from using or entering any Australian ports due to repeated breaches relating to seafarer welfare and maintenance of the ship.

The authority said it had detained Vega Auriga three times since July last year with repeated concerns for the welfare of the crew including improper payment of wages, inadequate living and working conditions and inadequate maintenance resulting in an unseaworthy and substandard vessel.

The ship has been banned for three months and can re-enter only after the authority is satisfied it has met its standards.

Allan Schwartz, general manager of Amsa's ship safety division, said vessels entering Australian ports must ensure they meet minimum international standards.

"Vessels that do not meet such standards, including standards for the welfare and treatment of crew, pose an increased risk to seafarers, safe operations and the marine environment," Schwartz said.

"Seafarer welfare is just as important as the proper maintenance of ship equipment, and an integral part of safe operations. A failure in either system could lead to serious accidents."

Amsa takes its responsibilities for ensuring compliance with all international safety conventions seriously.

"Seafarers live a tough life under even the best of circumstances, spending many months at sea away from family and friends," Schwartz said.

Amsa detention orders have listed Vega Auriga's owners as Schifffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Co KG, of Germany, and the ship management company as Vega-Reederei GmbH & Co KG, also of Germany.

Before it sank the Rena was also detained several times in Australia.

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