THE INTERNATIONAL Transport Workers’ Federation is concerned for the welfare of a crew “abandoned” on a ship arrested off Victoria.

The Australian Federal Court arrested Liberian-flagged livestock carrier Yangtze Fortune (IMO: 9336282) earlier this month, but it has been anchored near Portland since September.

The ITF said it has been working with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the Admiralty Marshal to support the crew after the ship’s owner “failed to pay their wages”.

The union said the ship, which would normally operate a route between Australia and China, is subject to an abandonment notice lodged with the International Labour Organization.

It said it is also subject to Australian Federal Court proceedings brought by commercial creditors from Singapore to recover debts owed by the ship’s owner.

An AMSA spokesperson told DCN the vessel has been at anchor off the port since around 28 September.

“AMSA is monitoring the circumstances of Liberian-flagged livestock carrier Yangtze Fortune, currently anchored off Portland, Victoria,” they said.

“On 2 December 2022, Federal Court Admiralty Marshal effected an arrest of the vessel for outstanding debts.

“AMSA continues to monitor the crew welfare on board the vessel and is working with the Admiralty Marshal to ensure that crew welfare and entitlements are maintained.”

The ITF said provisions on board are running low, but the crew must now stay with the ship while court action unfolds

ITF Australian inspectorate coordinator Ian Bray said there are 30 crew members onboard, all of whom are from the Philippines.

“These workers are already owed, collectively, more than a quarter of a million dollars in unpaid wages, and while the court action is on foot they must stay with their ship despite the ever diminishing prospect of receiving what is owed to them” Mr Bray said.

ITF Australia assistant coordinator Matt Purcell said five crewmembers had already been on board for eight months.

“These vulnerable, exploited crew face the prospect of spending months longer aboard this ship in dreadful conditions just to get what’s already owed to them, or the choice of returning home after eight or nine months away with nothing to show for it,” he said.

The ITF said it has been discussion with the crew manager, ship owner and flag state.

Mr Bray said the Yangtze Fortune situation is representative of a larger problem in the livestock shipping industry – that there are other crews not being paid.

“We believe there is an epidemic of borderline insolvency amongst the operators of these livestock ships as they repeatedly feature among the worst cases in our inspections around Australia and internationally,” Mr Bray said.

AMSA said any questions related to the arrest should be directed to the Admiralty Marshal.