by Paolo Virtuani
Viking Orion with 930 passengers not allowed to dock in Adelaide. The “biofoul” collects on the keels of ships and is one of the main entry routes for “foreign” organisms
The cruise ship Viking Orion, with 930 passengers on board, was blocked for days by the Australian authorities because of the accumulation of biofouling on the keel, i.e. an accumulation of microorganisms, molluscs, algae and plants that grow along the hulls and accumulate on the ships. The ship is not permitted to dock in Adelaide Harbor and is currently anchored 27 kilometers (12 nautical miles) offshore.
Maritime authorities said the ship must be “thoroughly cleaned of biofouling, a standard practice as with all others entering Australia” before it is allowed to dock. “Professional divers were hired for the operation.” The Viking Orion, which has failed to secure a port of call since its December 26 departure from Wellington, New Zealand, was also denied clearance to land at the ports of Hobart in Tasmania and the New Zealand ports of Christchurch and Dunedin for the same reason. According to a passenger heard by the BBC, “uncertainty and frustration are growing on board”. The cruise was scheduled to go to Melbourne on January 2nd and end in Sydney on the 4th, from where she departed. Another passenger said on Twitter it was “like a vacation from hell.” A similar incident occurred on another cruise ship, the Coral Princess, which was stranded off Christchurch on December 23 with 2,000 passengers on board for cleaning biofouling from the keel.
Biofouling is not only a threat to the arrival of alien and potentially dangerous species, but also to navigation itself. Excessive accumulation is like an appendage on the keel, slowing the ship’s speed and forcing it to use more fuel. Shipping companies are doing everything they can to avoid accumulation, for example by investigating certain paints and coatings that prevent molluscs, algae and marine microorganisms from colonizing. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued guidelines to avoid biofouling.
Australian (and New Zealand) authorities have always been very devoted to this issue, with all food and plants brought by arriving travelers being confiscated at customs and even pets brought with them being forced into long quarantine periods. In Australia, the proliferation of domestic rabbits and cats released into the environment has caused a real massacre of the local fauna, which consists largely of marsupials. In 1956, at the Melbourne Olympics, the equestrian competitions could not be held (and were diverted to Stockholm) precisely because the competitors’ horses would have had to spend long periods in isolation and quarantine.
Jan 2, 2023 (change Jan 2, 2023 | 11:26 am)
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