Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Sailors fined for straying too near Great Barrier Reef


The master of a Panama-flagged bulk carrier and two sailors were fined US$65,400 each yesterday after straying too close to the Great Barrier Reef, just days after another ship ran aground.

The South Korean and two Vietnamese mariners were arrested last week after the MV Mimosa sailed off course and through a restricted area of the world heritage-listed marine park without permission.

Acting magistrate Scott Luxton fined each of the men A$70,000 (US$65,400) when sentencing them in a court in Townsville in the eastern state of Queensland.

The South Korean master of the ship whose name was listed as Chun Han-gang, 63, and two officers, Tan Thanh Tran, 32, and Van Sang Nguyen, 26, had pleaded guilty to breaching the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act.

The vessel strayed into the World Heritage-listed marine park on April 4, just a day after Chinese coal carrier Shen Neng 1 strayed off a recognized route and hit a shoal, damaging the reef and leaking oil.

Australia’s government has voiced outrage over the crash and vowed stiff punishment. The huge ship was stranded for nine days, gouging a 3km scar in the coral, before salvagers refloated it on Monday.

The master of that ship and a crewmate were arrested and appeared in court charged over the accident on Thursday and were bailed to appear on June 9.

A preliminary investigation into the crash said a “very tired” sailor’s simple navigation errors caused the Chinese ship to run aground.

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