NINE Chinese and Filipino seafarers, some who have been onboard their Panama-flagged cargo ship Brio Faith for 20 months with no leave, will be reunited with their families after an intervention by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

AMSA inspected the ship in Port Alma, Queensland on 2 November 2020 where inspectors verified that three crew had been onboard for over 12 months, four crew had been onboard for more than 16 months and two crew had been onboard for over 20 months.

During the inspection the operator Tianjin Shun Xin Yuan Shipping Co assured AMSA, and provided evidence, that crew would be repatriated the following day.

On 3 November the operator informed AMSA that those repatriation plans had fallen through. The owners requested that the seafarers remain onboard until the next port, Shanghai. AMSA did not accept this proposal due to the length of time the seafarers had already spent at sea.

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AMSA issued a direction notice, prohibiting the ship from departing until all nine seafarers had been repatriated. Those seafarers are now making their way to Brisbane where they will embark international flights home to their families.

AMSA operations north manager Greg Witherall said the wellbeing of seafarers was even more important now than ever before.

“Seafarers are keeping the world’s international shipping industry and economy going – they are critical,” Mr Witherall said.

“It should be every operator’s and owner’s highest priority to ensure the welfare of their seafarers, and safety of their operations is maintained. Twenty months on board with no leave is completely unacceptable and will lead to increased risk of accidents.

“We will continue to enforce the Maritime Labour Convention, look after seafarers and ensure the safety of shipping.”

The ship embarked fresh crew to meet its minimum manning requirements and departed on Wednesday evening.

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