Dropped mooring line brings pollution fine

JULY 23, 2014 — The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has prosecuted U.K. based company, Lombard Corporate Finance Limited, the owners of U.K .flagged car carrier, Morning Midas, following a pollution incident in Port Phillips Heads in August last year.

Lombard Corporate Finance Limited was convicted, fined A$5000 and ordered to pay costs after it was found guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday, July 18, of contravening section 26F (3) of the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983.

The charges relate to a collision between the pilot launch Wyuna III and a mooring line discarded by Morning Midas in the early hours of August 1, 2012.

The 30-35 m mooring line was found discarded in the vicinity of the pilot boarding station outside Port Phillip Heads when Wyuna III collided with it, fouling its propellers and stalling both engines.

An AMSA investigation found charts indicating two GPS locations from Morning Midas' Deck Log Book and the site of the collision of the Wyuna III with the mooring line.

The location of the discharge was within Australian territorial waters in or near the pilot boarding ground and Morning Midas failed to report a danger to navigation posed by the mooring line.

Acting Ship Safety Division General Manager Alex Schultz-Altmann said the area, southwest of Point Lonsdale and close to Port Phillips Heads, is a focal point of maritime traffic of all shapes and sizes entering or departing Port Phillip Bay.

"An estimated 3,100 merchant vessels alone visit the port each year," Mr Schultz-Altmann said. "Any danger to navigation posed by pollution such as a discarded mooring line could have catastrophic consequences for the safety of ships and potential environmental harm. It is fortunate the unreported hazard of the discarded mooring line did not cause damage to the steering or propulsion of any larger commercial ships in the pilot boarding ground of Port Phillip Heads."

Ships are required to report any pollution or navigational hazards under Australia's Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act.