THE Australian Maritime Safety Authority has confirmed it conducted a complaint from the ITF that crew on board the Panama-flagged car carrier MV Metis Leader had been at sea for more than the stipulated 14 months.

MV Metis Leader arrived at Port of Melbourne on 19 October 2020 and, according to AMSA, there were five seafarers on board the vessel who had been on board for in excess of 14 months.

“AMSA has made clear that service without taking leave beyond 14 months will not be accepted unless the master or owner or both demonstrate satisfactorily to AMSA that all possible efforts have been expended to repatriate the seafarer without success and the seafarer has provided written confirmation accepting the extension,” the regulator said in a statement. 

“AMSA worked with the owners of the MV Metis Leader to ensure the repatriation of those five crew and to ensure that the vessel met its minimum safe manning prior to departure from Melbourne.”

ITF assistant coordinator for Australia, Matt Purcell, said the international body and its affiliates detected the car carrier as having seafarers on board beyond acceptable limits. He said that at the time of the ship’s arrest there were:

  • Five seafarers on the verge of 12 months working aboard;
  • Two seafarers aboard for 14 months;
  • Three seafarers aboard for more than 15 months, including the ship’s captain.

“All workers have a right to stop working upon completion of the contracts the initially signed up for. To deny any seafarer the ability to get off a ship and go home to their families,” Mr Purcell said.

ITF Australia Coordinator Dean Summers said the case was a “wakeup call” for the international shipping industry.

“Crew change is possible in ports right across the world. We have been living with Covid-19 for eight months now, and so there is no excuse for delaying or deferring crew change,” Mr Summers said.