The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has banned Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Agia Sofia from entering or using Australian ports for a six-month period as it underpaid seafarers.

The ship was inspected at Hay Point in Mackay on 25 July after a complaint was received via the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

AMSA uncovered that some of the seafarers on the ship were not paid in full since August last year.

The total outstanding wages amount to A$45,000 ($32,107) and it breaches the rights of the seafarers, according to the employment agreements under the Maritime Labour Convention.

AMSA said that it took steps to ensure that the crew onboard are paid before the ship leaves the country and has confirmed with the ship that the payments have been made.

AMSA acting general manager operations Michael Drake said that this is not the first instance where the company, Marmaras Navigation, was caught underpaying crew in Australia.

Drake added: “In January 2018, AMSA detained another company ship, Koundouros, at Port Walcott for owing its seafarers more than A$7,500 ($5,351).

“The operator was fortunate that AMSA did not ban Koundouros at the time and those seafarers were paid their outstanding wages before the ship was allowed to leave.

“Bringing a second ship, Agia Sofia, to Australia with the same breach is inexcusable and has left us with little choice but to ban this ship from Australian ports.”

He said that the seafarers are undertaking huge sacrifices to ensure that global trade is moving.

He said: “Abusing their most basic rights to be paid for the work they are doing is shameful behaviour on the part of this shipping company.

“We do not tolerate that in Australian waters and Agia Sofia is now the third ship in the last 12 months to be banned by AMSA for failing to pay seafarers their wages in full and on time.”

In 2017, AMSA banned a Papua New Guinea-flagged cargo ship, Kiunga Chief, from entering or using its ports for a three-month period due to the vessels’ repeated failure to meet safety requirements.