Damaged livestock carrier to sail from Abrolhos waters on Sunday

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
The livestock carrier The Barkly Pearl loaded onto the heavy lift ship The Falcon near the Houtman Abrolhos Islands.
Camera IconThe livestock carrier The Barkly Pearl loaded onto the heavy lift ship The Falcon near the Houtman Abrolhos Islands. Credit: Department of Transport/Supplied, Department of Transport

The badly damaged livestock carrier The Barkly Pearl is banned from entering or using any Australian port for 24 months, after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority issued its most severe banning ever last night.

The stricken vessel is now ready to sail on Sunday, having been successfully loaded onto the heavy lift ship Falcon overnight.

Before it could depart Australian waters, the Barkly Pearl was issued with a refusal of access direction notice, under section 246 of the Navigation Act 2012.

AMSA general manger Operations Allan Schwartz, said the ban would certainly affect the vessel’s commercial operation.

“The Australian public has the expectation that any vessel operating or travelling through Australian waters is seaworthy,” he said.

“When vessels are found to be so poorly maintained, AMSA will not hesitate to use the suite of powers available to it.

“The owners and operators of the Barkly Pearl were negligent in their maintenance of the vessel, put the lives of the seafarers on board at risk and posed an immediate threat to the Australian marine environment.”

The Barkly Pearl docked in Geraldton on November 3 with serious hull damage.

It was en route from Singapore to collect livestock in Fremantle, but before it arrived it unexpectedly turned around and headed towards Indonesia and emerged five days later, 120km from Geraldton.

AMSA had issued an intervention direction instructing the vessel to the nearest safe harbour at Geraldton.

Mr Schwartz said this was due to concerns about the vessel’s structural integrity, the potential threat of pollution and the immediate risk to the seafarers’ safety.

A Mid West Ports spokeswoman said sea fastening and associated inspections were being carried out in preparation for the Falcon to sail from Abrolhos Island to Surabaya in Indonesia.

The first attempt at loading, which required the specialised lift vessel to partly submerge, had been unsuccessful last weekend so the Barkly Pearl returned to port to await safer weather.

A Mid West Ports spokeswoman said The Falcon had been awaiting favourable conditions in deep water north east of the Abrolhos since the weekend.

The Mid West Ports spokeswoman said a film of coral spawn was visible in images of the loading operation.

“This is a natural phenomenon which is entirely normal for the area at this time of year and is not associated with the lift operations and is not any form of pollutant,” she said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails