The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has secured a win for marine pilot safety, following the successful prosecution of a master and company in the Perth Magistrates Court on 23 May 2023.
On 24 August 2022, the Cyprus-flagged cargo ship AAL Dampier (owned by AAL Dampier Navigation Co Ltd) was departing the Port of Fremantle, when the marine pilot was injured when disembarking the vessel.
While departing the AAL Dampier via the pilot ladder, the ropes parted, causing the pilot to fall approximately 7 metres onto the deck of the pilot vessel, which was traveling alongside the ship.
The pilot vessel urgently transported the pilot to hospital for treatment for serious injuries.
AMSA inspectors and specialist investigators boarded the vessel and seized a portion of the man ropes, which were later found to be seriously defective and in a poor state.
The shocking condition of the ropes was likely due to inappropriate storage and ineffective inspection maintenance procedures.
AAL Dampier Navigation Co Ltd pled guilty to an offence under Marine Order 21 (Safety and Emergency Arrangements) 2016 for failing to ensure pilot transfer arrangements in place were in accordance with the relevant regulations and was fined $30,500.
The master of the vessel pled guilty to two offences, one under Marine Order 21 (Safety and Emergency Arrangements) 2016 for failing to ensure the disembarkation of a pilot was carried out in accordance with the relevant regulations and one under the Navigation Act 2012 for taking an unseaworthy vessel to sea, and was fined a total of $5,500.
AMSA Executive Director of Operations Michael Drake said he was pleased with the result and hoped a conviction would deter other vessels from compromising on marine pilot safety.
“Marine pilots have a critical and high-risk job, even in the best of conditions, and it is imperative that vessels meet safety standards to prevent serious injury,” he said. “AMSA is a tough-but-fair regulator, and we will not hesitate to take action to prevent danger to human life, whether it be a pilot or mariner.