Unseaworthy foreign-flagged cargo ship banned from Australian waters

BBC Weser in 2021 (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/JANURY)

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has banned the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged general cargo ship BBC Weser from Australian waters for 90 days for being in an unsafe and unseaworthy condition – and an unacceptable risk to Australia’s precious marine and coastal environments.

This is the second ship AMSA has banned from Australian waters in a week, following the 90-day ban issued to the Panama-flagged Babuza Wisdom.

AMSA detained BBC Weser in May 2023 after inspectors found a significant number of ballast air vents onboard were defective.

AMSA reiterates that functional ballast air vents are critical safety components that prevent water entering a ship, while allowing air to escape, preventing a dangerous vacuum from developing inside a tank.

The ship’s operator, Briese Heavylift, has a history of poor performance, with one in five of its ships having been detained in Australia since May 2021. This rate is more than three times the average for ships visiting Australian waters, added AMSA.

AMSA had twice contacted Briese Heavylift to warn the company of its poor performance and the potential consequences of further detentions, or more serious compliance and enforcement action.

Previous detentions were due to defective emergency generators and unsafe work platforms – negligence that led to a crew member being critically injured while working on one of the company’s ships.

AMSA Executive Director of Operations Michael Drake said the banning sends a clear message to the operator, and the wider shipping industry, that sub-standard ships will not be tolerated in Australian waters.

“The defects on BBC Weser are especially concerning,” said Mr Drake, “They are detainable deficiencies that would have been obvious to anyone onboard, and that the operator could not have pleaded ignorance to.”


Published since 1978, Ausmarine is the foremost magazine servicing the Australian and New Zealand commercial, military and government marine sectors.