Bulk carrier master calls on Australian Border Force to prevent violence at sea

Officers on board the DW Wrembeck. Credit: Queensland Water Police

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has released footage of a high-sea response to an alleged violent attack on board a U-Ming bulk coal carrier off the Queensland coast.

The ship’s master requested the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (AMSA JRCC) to intervene, on 29 June, after crew on board the vessel claimed two seafarers were acting in a threatening manner.

The two men were allegedly damaging property and physically assaulting others.

The Taiwanese-registered vessel, laden with coal, was en route to Taiwan from Newcastle, Australia. However, the master diverted his ship to approximately 53 nautical miles (98 km) northeast of Gladstone to enable Queensland Police and the ABF to respond to the incident.

An AMSA Challenger jet providing police aerial support had filmed the mission from above.

The footage, “Dramatic high-sea response to alleged violence at sea incident”, has also been posted on the ABF website and Twitter.

“In this dramatic high-seas response off Gladstone, our officers joined forces with the @QldPolice Service and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to remove two Taiwanese men from the bulk carrier,” the ABF tweeted.

Video footage showed police on board the DW Wrembeck catamaran approaching the bulk carrier. A female officer then climbed the pilot’s ladder and was helped on board, where six crew and ships’ officers were waiting. A meeting with the crew below deck was also filmed, although their faces have been pixelated to protect their identities.

The ABF reported the master declined to press charges against the two men who are being repatriated to Taiwan.

“We work closely with other agencies to ensure safety at sea,” said ABF Queensland Regional Commander Chris Waters in a press release.

The vessel was identified by the company, on 2 July, as Centrex Hunter. A company spokesperson for U-Ming Marine Transport Corporation said in a statement, “No other crew personnel were injured as a result of the incident on board and the two men would be repatriated to Taiwan.  The company is conducting a full inquiry into the incident”.