UAE Bans MSC-Operated Boxship For Violating Carriage Ban

- Mar 18, 2020-

Federal Transport Authority of the United Arab Emirates (FTA) has banned the Panama-flagged containership MSC Joanna from operating in UAE waters and ports for a duration of one year over violation of the carriage ban. 

The authority said that the ship’s master was banned from working on any ship calling UAE waters or ports, and that legal action will be initiated against the master due to the violation of the UAE enforced legislation related to the International Maritime Instruments and the UAE maritime commercial law.

The 2006-built ship is operated by MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, which voiced its commitment to meeting IMO 2020 through a combination of compliant fuels and scrubber technology.

According to the sources close to the matter, the company is investigating the incident and the reaction from the FTA.

As informed by FTA, the ship was found to be carrying more than 700 MT of high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) when boarded at Jebel Ali Port, despite the repeated warnings given to the ship to debunker the non-compliant fuel before calling UAE ports.

World Maritime News understands that the HFO was carried in a sealed tank and was intended for future testing of a new exhaust gas cleaning system.

“The ship was ordered to offload HSFO before its departure to comply with the carriage ban imposed in the UAE on March 1,” FTA said in a circular seen by World Maritime News.

“The ship sailed out without offloading the HSFO and obtaining the port state control officer’s permission.”

The announcement comes after port state regimes issued numerous warnings to ship owners and operators that their ships face detention and rigorous fines if they continue to carry fuel that contains a sulphur content higher than 0.5 percent unless the ship is fitted with a scrubber.

The International Chamber of Shipping said earlier that enforcement agencies will no longer have to prove usage, and that showing that vessels without scrubbers have non-complient fuel aboard will be enough to prove a violation.

Ships have been given “a grace period” since the introduction of the sulphur cap on January 1 to facilitate the transition to low-sulphur fuel. However, as of March 1, 2020, all ships that are not fitted with scrubbers are banned from carrying non-compliant fuels.

However, due to the latest outbreak of coronavirus ship owners and operators have been faced with considerable delays in relation to the installation of scrubbers onboard their ships as numerous shipyards declared force majeure on their contracts amid a shortage of labour and lockdown measures pursued by governments.