Shipowner prosecuted after ‘expletive-laced tirade’ against PSC inspector

Port of Brisbane. Credit: Port of Brisbane

The owner of an unseaworthy Australian tug was convicted of hindering a Commonwealth public official in Cairns Magistrate Court on 13 October and fined AUD750 (USD536).

Tug owner Anthony Wolfe became aggressive during a port state control (PSC) inspection of the vessel.

An inspector from Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) found serious deficiencies on board the ex-navy tug, including the hatches and firefighting equipment as well as no lifeboat on board, during the inspection in Brisbane in May 2019.

The 242 gt, 26.8 m long vessel, built in 1982, was about to embark on a 2,000 km international voyage shipping empty containers to Papua New Guinea.

“During the inspection, Mr Wolfe became aggressive and engaged in an expletive laden tirade forcing the inspector off the vessel,” AMSA reported.

For the safety of the crew on board, including Wolfe, and to protect the marine environment, AMSA detained the vessel under the Navigation Act as unseaworthy, also pressing charges against the owner.

“AMSA would not tolerate violence or threats of violence being made against staff,” Allan Schwartz, general manager of operations at AMSA, said in a statement.

“Our inspectors work every day to make the seas a safer place to work and to protect Australia’s precious marine environments from the impacts of shipping and unseaworthy vessels like Wallaroo,” he said. “Mr. Wolfe’s criminal conviction should serve as a reminder that the Australian community and AMSA will not tolerate this kind of vile behaviour.”

AMSA released Wallaroo after the deficiencies were rectified.

“Fortunately, cases of our inspectors being abused are rare,” an AMSA spokesperson told SAS.