Melbourne: A Vietnamese tanker has been dragged into a rapidly escalating debate over fuel security and the environment in Australia. The 18 crew of the Tandara Spirit product tanker have been on strike in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay for the past two weeks, refusing to take the ship back to Singapore. The all-Australian crew believe that the charterer Viva Energy will make them redundant if they return to Singapore and choose a cheaper option from Southeast Asia instead. The Tandara Spirit is owned by Teekay Shipping Australia and has been delivering fuel to Australia for a number of years. Viva Energy has said it will not renew its charter with Teekay which ends next month and will instead charter the Vinalines Galaxy (pictured), which uses far cheaper Vietnamese crew.
The crew onboard Tandara Spirit argue that Australia is becoming too reliant on foreign flagged and foreign crewed ships for its energy consumption. They also site Vinalines Galaxy’s very mixed safety record as a potential threat to Australia’s marine environment when it starts regular runs to a refinery in Geelong in the new year.
The issue has made the the headlines in Australia and the strike shows no sign of abating. [21/11/14]