Owner of unseaworthy tugboat fined for “vile behavior”

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) reports that Anthony Roy Wolfe, the owner of MV Wallaroo—an unseaworthy, ex-navy tug boat—was convicted of hindering a Commonwealth public official in Cairns Magistrate Court on Tuesday, October 13.

Wolfe was found guilty, with a conviction recorded on his criminal record for the next 10 years and fined AUD 750 (about US$530) for hindering an inspector from AMSA. The inspector was doing his job, ensuring maritime safety by detaining the Wallaroo. The inspection of Wallaroo in Brisbane revealed serious deficiencies with watertight hatches, defunct firefighting equipment and no life raft on the vessel.

At the time, says AMSA, Wolfe intended on using Wallaroo to transport shipping containers from Cairns to Papua New Guinea under a commercial arrangement.

In the interest of the safety of the people working on board the boat—including Wolfe—and to protect the marine environment from a potential incident, Wallaroo was detained under the Navigation Act for unseaworthiness.

During the inspection, Wolfe became aggressive and engaged in an expletive laden tirade forcing the inspector off the vessel. He also hindered him in the course of his duties.

AMSA General Manager of Operations Allan Schwartz said the agency would not tolerate violence or threats of violence being made against staff. He also stated that AMSA would not tolerate behavior that hindered staff in undertaking their important duties.

“Our inspectors work every day to make the seas a safer place to work and to protect Australia’s precious marine environments from the impacts of shipping and unseaworthy vessels like Wallaroo,” Schwartz said. “Our inspectors serve the Australian community, in particular the coastal towns and tourism hubs like Cairns which depend on the sea for their livelihoods.”

Wolfe’s criminal conviction, he added “should serve as a reminder that the Australian community and AMSA will not tolerate this kind of vile behavior.”

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