AUSTRALIAN Independent Shipbrokers has been appointed broker in the sale of a ship arrested of Portland, Victoria.

Liberian-flagged livestock carrier Yangtze Fortune (IMO: 9336282) has been anchored near Portland since September last year and was arrested in December for outstanding debts.

While court proceedings unfolded, the International Transport Workers Federation and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority have been monitoring the welfare of the crew.

At a court hearing on 20 December, Justice Angus Stewart issued orders for the ship to be sold.

“The 36 crew members on board had been at anchorage for that whole period of nearly three months,” Justice Stewart wrote in his reasons for judgement.

“They have reportedly not been paid for the last six or seven weeks,” he wrote on 20 December.

“The owner has also not been provisioning the vessel. The result is that the Marshal has had to purchase bunker fuel as well as victuals.”

Justice Stewart wrote because the vessel is a livestock carrier, a significant number of the crew were not necessary for the safe custody of the vessel while it under arrest. He noted they were on board to look after the livestock.

“The minimum safe crewing level can be maintained with a significant number of crewmembers being repatriated,” he wrote.

“Given the apparent lack of interest or involvement of the shipowner, there appears to be little point in maintaining the complement of crew at any level above the minimum required to maintain the safe custody of the vessel.

“AMSA has reportedly advised that that number is 16. However, it may be that the crew members who are in excess of the minimum required will not be willing to leave the vessel until they have been paid in full.

“These are matters that the Marshal will have to deal with, but they illustrate the escalating expenses to maintain the vessel under arrest.”

Before issuing orders for the sale, Justice Stewart wrote the ship has been deteriorating while under arrest.

“In the present case, no party, whether the shipowner or any bareboat charterer or mortgagee, has intervened to maintain the vessel while it is under arrest or even to continue to pay the crew,” he wrote.

“The vessel has all but been abandoned. It continues to deteriorate and the expenses to maintain it continue to mount.

“It seems that its sale at some point is inevitable, and the sooner that that is ordered and done the better for all concerned.

“I have in mind in particular the highly disadvantageous circumstances of the crew and that the shipowner has not opposed the sale or indicated any willingness to secure the claims.”

Justice Stewart also noted the significant age of the vessel, and the months spent at anchorage, which would contribute to its deterioration.

“In the circumstances, I am satisfied that there should be orders for the sale of the vessel. I see no other available course.”

And last Thursday (12 January), Australian Independent Shipbrokers announced it has been appointed broker in the sale of Yangtze Fortune.

“The Federal Court of Australia has issued further orders that the livestock vessel Yangtze Fortune be sold by closed bid tender,” AIS said in a statement.

“The sale is conducted in accordance with the Admiralty Marshal’s terms and conditions of sale which can be obtained from Australian Independent Shipbrokers,” it said.

“Although the effect under Australian law of this judicial sale is to free the ship from all liens and encumbrances and debts up to the date of the sale, no warranties are made by the Admiralty Marshal as to the effect of this sale under any foreign laws and/or foreign jurisdictions.”