Persistent and concerning issues with the watertight and weathertight integrity of ships in Australian ports have been revealed in recently released ship inspection data, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
The data, compiled by the AMSA, showed that these issues accounted for 9% of detainable deficiencies in 2021.
To combat this issue, the AMSA has released new resources and information on its website, including guidance on regular checks and the importance of including watertight and weathertight components in maintenance plans. The AMSA will also be carrying out ongoing watertight and weathertight integrity inspections during routine port State control throughout 2022-23.
Dr Michelle Grech, AMSA Manager Vessel Operations, emphasized the importance of routine checks and planned maintenance for all watertight and weathertight components, stating that ship’s masters and crew should know which elements of their ship are designed to be watertight or weathertight under the relevant international conventions.
“AMSA takes an intelligence-led and risk-based approach to compliance,” said Dr Grech. “With our data showing detainable deficiencies for watertight and weathertight integrity on the rise, we are reminding all ships entering Australian waters to Find it, fix it, and keep your ship watertight.”
Grech also warned that the risk of being detected and detained by AMSA, or banned from Australian ports, for serious breaches of these international conventions is a very real one with significant financial and reputational costs to operators. She cited an example of an operator paying $600,000 AUD in just two months for port fees alone after a recent detention.
“The price of conducting proper maintenance is far less than the potential cost of detention or banning, and certainly worth it to avoid the potential consequences which include injury, death, dry docking, labour costs, or even lawsuits over environmental damage,” Grech added.
The AMSA’s release of the data and guidance highlights the ongoing need for regular maintenance and checks to ensure the safety and integrity of ships in Australian waters, and comes amid a crackdown on poor-performing operators in the maritime industry.