Ships may be detained if their seafarers have spent too long at sea, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has indicated.
An explanation of how AMSA will respond to a variety of lengthy seafarer-service periods has been set out in Marine Notice 04/2020.
Service of less than 11 months
No action will be taken if a seafarer has served under 11 months, and has not taken leave, provided there is a valid Seafarer Employment Agreement that is being complied with and all parties have signed.
Service of more than 11 months but less than 13 months without leave
The ship master will be required to provide to AMSA a flag-State approved plan that would result in the repatriation of the seafarer before the mariner has served a maximum continuous period of 14 months.
Service of more than 13 months but less than 14 months without leave
A ship will be forbidden from departing port if there is a seafarer aboard working under a valid Seafarer Employment Agreement who has continuously served for more than 13 months UNLESS a flag-State approved plan is provided to AMSA that would result in the repatriation of the seafarer before the mariner has served a maximum continuous period of 14 months.
Service of 14 months or more
Extensions of service beyond 14 months without leave will not be accepted by AMSA unless the owner, or the master, or both, demonstrate to AMSA that all possible efforts have been expended to repatriate the seafarer without success. The seafarer must also provide written confirmation accepting the extension.
Seafarers without a valid Seafarer Exemption Agreement
The master will be required to arrange repatriation of the seafarer, which may mean accommodating the seafarer ashore until repatriation can be arranged. If the departure of the seafarer means that the vessel’s minimum safe manning requirements cannot be met, then the vessel will be banned from leaving port.
Further details can be found in Marine Notice 04/20 — Maximum period of shipboard service for seafarers during COVID-19 pandemic (PDF 152 KB).
Further information on seafarers and crew changes: