AsiaDry Cargo

Rio Tinto-chartered ship arrested for not paying crew

A bulk carrier under charter to a Rio Tinto subsidiary has been arrested in Australia after inspectors found close to no food onboard and that crew had not been paid in months.

The handysize Maratha Paramount, which is owned by India’s Chowgule Steamship, was detained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) off Gladstone, following an inspection by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

An ITF inspector found the 22 Indian crew had not been paid for more than two months, the vessel was poorly maintained and the crew was running out of food.

“The inspector went straight to the captain’s accounts and the wages and found that even though the captain had asked the crew to sign off on receiving the wages, nobody had received wages since the end of July,” ITF National Coordinator Dean Summers told ABC in Australia.

“There was only a very scant amount of food, I think three bags of frozen vegetables, half a bag of rice and little else,” said Summers, who added that fresh water onboard the vessel was “the colour of tea”.

Reports suggest the vessel was on a voyage charter to Pacific Aluminium, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, to transport alumina from Gladstone to Newcastle. Under a voyage charter, the vessel’s owner is responsible for crewing, stores and vessel maintenance, not the charterer.

Nevertheless, this arrest is the second time this year Rio Tinto has been linked to a foreign vessel detained for not paying crew.

In August, AMSA detained the Hong Kong-owned Five Stars Fujian, a capesize laden with a $10m coal cargo. It had been abandoned off Gladstone, along with its unpaid crew, for more than a month.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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