THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority has banned the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier KMAX Leader from entering Australian ports for a year.

AMSA issued a refusal of access direction because of serious safety violations and breaches of Australian legislation committed by the ship’s master and owner while in Gladstone Harbour. 

KMAX Leader first experienced mechanical issues on 26 October, reporting unidentified engine room vibrations.

On 28 October, the ship’s agent advised work had started on the mechanical issues and would take eight to 10 days to complete but the repairs were not completed in that period. 

The ship was left disabled in the Port of Gladstone during cyclone season, presenting a risk to safety within the port.

Since the ship’s arrival in Gladstone, two cyclones impacted the Queensland coast. 

Multiple direction notices were issued, requiring the ship’s classification society to conduct a damage survey and report on repair work and for the ship to advise AMSA of towage arrangements and an updated repair plan. 

The ship did not comply with the direction notices and the owners repeatedly failed to engage with AMSA about the situation. 

AMSA executive director operations Michael Drake said AMSA took its role as a maritime safety regulator very seriously and would not hesitate to take quick and appropriate action against unsafe ships, their owners and operators. 

“The lack of information forthcoming from the owners of KMAX Leader has been very disappointing,” he said. 

“AMSA expects all ship operators and masters to engage promptly, transparently and meaningfully. 

“International standards exist to protect the lives of seafarers, and our precious marine and coastal environments. They are not optional.”

The ban came into effect on 15 February.