Hundreds of passengers spent this New Year on board the Orion, a Viking cruise ship stranded off the coast of Australia. The Orion was unable to dock for seven days due to the potential for harmful biofouling to develop on the hull.
According to vessel tracking website VesselFinder.com, Orion did not dock for a week after departing from Wellington, New Zealand, on December 26. The ship was reportedly denied docking permits in Christchurch, Dunedin and Hobart. before she set sail for Adelaide, South Australia.
However, the vessel did not reach Adelaide because the Australian National Maritime Coordinating Center (ANMCC) was notified of a small amount of biofouling (marine organisms, plants, small animals or algae) on the hull.
The Maritime Coordination Center received a biofoul notice on 28 December and authorities ordered Orion’s agents to clean the hull before entering Australian waters.
The Federal Fisheries Service told the AAP in a January 1 statement that cruise ships will have their hulls cleaned to remove biofouling to prevent ships from transporting potentially harmful marine life into Australian waters. He said he needed to be washed.
“Professional divers were engaged directly by vessel lines/agents to clean the hull while anchored outside Australian waters,” the Federal Fisheries Service said. is common practice for all arriving international vessels.”
The hull cleaning took place 12 nautical miles (approximately 22 kilometers or 14 miles) off the coast of the South Australian town of Victor Harbour.
Biofoul expert commentary
If left unchecked, biofouls can wreak havoc on the environment without intervention, said Sophie Leterme, an associate professor at the Flinders University Biofilm Training Center.
She said the accumulation of organic matter on the hull, including barnacles, bacteria, plankton, seagrass and mussels, could allow stowaway species to enter Australia’s marine ecosystems and harm them, especially if they are invasive species.
“If they end up on our reefs, they can destroy the environment and cause serious problems,” said Leterme.
“For example, we don’t want to find Japanese or French seaweed hijacking the biodiversity of Australian ecosystems.
“Because of COVID, companies may not be doing enough to meet the requirements.”
Cleaning biofouling, especially on large vessels, can be costly, time consuming, and require divers. Leterme believes it’s not common for cruise ships to encounter docking problems due to biofouling, but it’s common for tankers and other vessels.
“I think it just doesn’t make the news because there aren’t too many people involved,” she said.
Australia and New Zealand are relatively stricter than other countries when it comes to biofouling requirements.Recently introduced by the Federal Agriculture Service new rules For biofouling control on international vessels arriving in Australia. These new regulations have increased the requirement to report biofouling controls prior to entering Australian waters.
Cruises offering rebates to passengers
Orion’s hull is now being washed and the ship docked in Melbourne on 2 January and the ship resumed its voyage to Sydney. However, a cruise company representative pointed out that the ship missed several stops along its route due to the necessary cleaning.
“A limited amount of standard marine growth has been removed from the hull. This is standard cleaning procedure for vessels,” they told the AAP in a statement on Sunday.
“Viking works directly with guests on compensation for impacts on voyages.”
Captain Marko Snajdar wrote a letter of apology to the passengers on December 30 for the situation.
“We accept that our current cruise has fallen short of your expectations,” wrote Snajdar.
“As soon as you return, a member of our Customer Relations team will contact you regarding an adjusted compensation offer.
“Viking is interested in keeping you as a traveler for life and hopes to see you on one of our ships in the future under non-exceptional circumstances.”
Environmental Impact of Cruise Ships
More than just transport of invasive species Danger Cruise ships’ impact on Australia’s marine environment.These ships produce large amounts of waste, leaks toxic metal When chemicals Penetrates underwater and interferes with marine life. noise releasing large amounts of CO2, nitrogen, and sulfur oxides.
Another problem with some cruise ships is illegal waste dumping. In January 2022, Princess Cruise Line, owned by cruise line Carnival, will second cancellation of 5 years probation That it was maintained in 2017.
Carnival was given a suspended sentence and a $40 million fine after pleading guilty to “seven felony charges arising from intentional pollution of the ocean and willful acts to cover it up.”
However, in 2019, Princess was convicted again. 6 probation violations Sentenced to a $20 million fine, pleaded guilty to a second vacancy in 2022 and was fined $1 million.