9 JANUARY 2002

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Maltese grain carrier sues Australian Port Authority for crash

The Maltese operator of a giant grain carrier that crashed into an Australian jetty, causing AUD2.5 million (Lm585,000) damage, is suing the South Australian Ports Corporation for its involvement in the incident. The action is due to be heard in the Australian Supreme Court later this month.

The Maltese-registered bulk carrier Amarantos, owned by the Maltese-registered Amarantos Shipping Company, ran into a jetty as it was docking back in early April 2000. However, a subsequent report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had found that the Ports Corporation pilot had misjudged the ship's speed as it approached the jetty. The 64,957 tonne Amarantos had intended to bring aboard 20,000 tonnes of wheat for export to Iraq.

In a claim recently filed in the Australian Supreme Court, Amarantos Shipping alleged that the Ports Corporation had failed in its duty of care to the ship's owners.

The Maltese shipper also alleged that the South Australian Ports Corporation had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, or conduct likely to deceive or mislead, in contravention of the Australian Trade Practices Act.

Amarantos Shipping said that under legislation it was liable for repairs and other costs following the crash, including AUD115,399.36 to the South Australian Ports Corp for repair of the jetty, AUD445,974 to Centre State Exports and AUD117,650 to Port Lincoln Tugs for consequential economic loss – AUD680,000 (Lm160,000).

However, it says the Ports Corporation is liable to Amarantos Shipping for those costs, alleging Ports Corp had made a number of false representations.

The statement of claim filed by Amartantos reads, "The defendant (Ports Corporation) knew or should have known that owners and operators of Panamax (the vessel’s category) vessels were likely to rely upon the harbour facilities at Wallaroo as being suitable, adequate and safe for berthing Panamax vessels.

"By reason of the said negligence of the defendant, the bow of the motor vessel Amarantos came into collision with the jetty at Wallaroo and damaged certain conveyors and associated grain-loading facilities situated on the jetty."

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt