One of the worst examples of sub-standard shipping in recent years at a British port was the Panamanian flag wood chip carrier Donald Duckling of 43,866 dwt when she was arrested at South Shields on 15th November 2013 for ten deficiencies including four of a serious nature. These were grounds for detention, with severely rusted and corroded raised hatch coamings and deck plating. She had been completed in May 1997 as Tern Spirit by the Sanoyas Hishino Meisho Corporation at Kurashiki in Japan, with NKK of Japan as her classification society. She was renamed Stellar Lily in 2008 and sold to the TMT bulk Corporation of Taiwan in 2012 and renamed Donald Duckling. She had six holds and six raised hatches served by three cranes of 14.7 tonnes capacity with dimensions of length 195 metres, moulded beam of 32.2 metres and draft of 10.6 metres. A single Mitsubishi seven cylinder diesel of 12,600 bhp gave her a service speed of 15.3 knots. After sixteen years in the wood chip, grain and bulk cargoes trades, she arrived in the Tyne to load a cargo of scrap metal for the Far East.

Donald Duckling had a recent bad history of detentions after port inspections, with a 121 day detention at Gibraltar with 21 safety deficiencies, and then at Las Palmas in the Canaries with 33 safety deficiencies. The crew of 22 Filipino and Romanian seamen had not been paid and had run out of food and were forced to fish over the side of the vessel and then cook the fish on the open deck as the galley was inoperable. No money was available from the owner to buy food, and the Chief Engineer had been sacked when he tried to buy spare parts to correct some of the deficiencies. Alan Thomson, an MCA surveyor, completed the Port State Control inspection and said standards on board were some of the worst he had ever encountered in his long experience. Donald Duckling was moved to a lay-by berth and remained there for eleven months, and a bill totalling several hundred thousands of pounds for port and towage dues had been built up. The crew were cared for by the Missions to Seamen at South Shields over the Christmas period, and the Romanians were then repatriated after a kind free ferry offer was received from DFDS, with the Filipinos also returning home. The vessel was sold and renamed Tai Fu Star and her hull received a new coat of black paint at her lay-by berth. She sailed for Amsterdam for further repairs on 14th October 2014, the new buyer Hongda of China having paid $3M for her.

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PhotoTransport SeaSunday2023


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