Chinese captain arrested for sailing over Great Barrier Reef without pilot

barrier reef
Chinese Coal Ship Captain Arrested After His Ship Sailed Through Great Barrier Reef Without Pilot –

The Australian Federal Police have arrested the captain of a Chinese coal ship for sailing through part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park without a pilot.

The ABC understands the captain — a Taiwanese national by the name of Lu — will plead guilty to a charge of being the master of a ship without a pilot in the marine park, an offence that carries a maximum fine of $85,000.

Captain Lu’s matter was in a Newcastle court today but was adjourned until tomorrow after a request by his defense solicitor.

It is alleged that on New Year’s Day the bulk carrier China Steel Developer sailed through Hydrographers Passage, a deep water channel near Creal Reef off Mackay, without a pilot as required under law.

A pilot is a maritime official qualified to steer ships through difficult waters and in and out of ports.

The China Steel Developer is believed to have transported a load of coal to China before returning to Australia and anchoring off Newcastle last week.

AFP officers arrested Captain Lu on Saturday.

In 2010 a Chinese bulk coal carrier, the Shen Neng 1, ran aground on a reef off central Queensland after veering more than 10 kilometers outside the shipping lane.

The grounding damaged one of the ship’s fuel tanks, resulting in a four-kilometer-long slick of heavy fuel oil.

It also carved a three-kilometer-long, 400,000-square-meter scar in and around Douglas Shoal, the largest known damage to the Great Barrier Reef caused by a ship.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has said coral regrowth at the site has been hampered by toxic anti-fouling paint used on the hull of the Shen Neng 1.

The ship’s first mate served three months in over the incident, while the vessel’s master was convicted and fined $25,000.

About 4,500 ships travel through the Great Barrier Reef to Queensland every year.