Shen Neng captain arrested
TWO crew members of the Shen Neng 1 were taken into custody by the Australian Federal Police last night.
It is believed the ship’s captain and the chief watch officer were taken to Gladstone watchhouse last night and are to appear in Gladstone Magistrates Court mid-morning today.
The Shen Neng 1 went aground on Douglas Shoal, northeast of Gladstone, on April 3. It was refloated on Monday and relocated to 2.3 nautical miles northwest of Barren Island off the Capricorn Coast.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said it would be alleged in court today that the Chinese men were the master and chief officer-on-watch of the Shen Neng 1.
The arrests were the result of a criminal investigation that began after the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority referred the matter to the AFP two days after the incident. Investigations showed that the Shen Neng 1 failed to turn at the point where it was meant to change course.
The AFP said its officers, assisted by marine park and Australian Maritime Safety Authority officials, executed a search warrant on the vessel yesterday.
The ship’s master, a 47-year-old man, has been charged with liability for a vessel which caused damage in the marine park, an offence carrying a maximum $55,000 fine.
A 44-year-old man has been charged with being the person in charge of a vessel which caused damage within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
That offence carries a maximum penalty of three years’ jail and a $220,000 fine.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says there is now a 3km long, 1.5km wide scar on the reef from the Shen Neng 1’s journey.