Specifically, the incident took place on January 31, 2019, when the tanker was sailing from Korea to Australia, transferring 14,000 tonnes of asphalt.

During the voyage, the ship suffered a main engine breakdown at 4pm local time and began drifting 30km northeast of Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island.

Thus, the master informed AMSA via email after 10pm that night, six hours after the initial breakdown. In light of the incident, the Authority began arrangements to intervene and assist the vessel with an emergency tug from Brisbane.

According to predictions, there was a possibility that the ship would run aground at the southern end of the island within the next 17 hours if it continued to drift without power.

Following, the master responded to AMSA at 1.30am on Friday, 1 February and confirmed the engine damage could not be repaired at sea.

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After discussions, the UK P&I Club, the tanker's insurer, entered into its own commercial arrangement with Svitzer who tasked its tug Clontarf to intervene. Clontarf arrived later that day, securing the Asphalt Spirit and towing her to Brisbane.

On December 9, 2019, the master pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to one count of failing to report a marine incident to authorities without delay, as required by section 11(1) of the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983.

Consequently, he was fined $3,000 and a conviction was recorded.

Commenting on the incident, AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley stated that this conviction represents the impacts of failing to comply with critical reporting requirements had serious consequences.

The responsibility to report a marine incident to authorities without delay and the consequences for failing to do so, ultimately rests on the shoulders of the ship’s master ... We have reporting requirements in the maritime industry for a reason. Authorities need to know if you are in trouble so they can provide assistance where possible to resolve the problem before it leads to a catastrophe.

He continued that in case of no intervention, the Asphalt Spirit could have been an environmental disaster. It goes without saying that the reluctance from the master and company management to report the incident to AMSA with the urgency that it warranted, is completely unacceptable.

Failure to report a marine incident without delay places the safety of your ship and crew, as well as our precious marine environment, at further risk and it could result in a conviction that will follow you for the rest of your career.

 

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