Mariner charged over Australia Singapore cable cut
A 59-year-old Ukrainian national has been charged by the Australian Federal Police over alleged damage to the Australia Singapore Cable.
The ship allegedly caused damage of $1.5 million to the Australia Singapore Cable off the West Australian coast, and an investigation by Victorian and WA AFP officers resulted in the man’s arrest.
A section of the subsea communications cable in the Perth Submarine Cable Protection Zone, approximately 10 kilometres offshore from City Beach, was disabled early on 1 August 2021, with the allegations reported to the AFP on 3 August.
The man was the Master of cargo ship Maersk Surabaya, which police say had been anchored approximately 500 m from the protection zone, and allegedly dragged its anchor through the area in high winds, snagging and damaging the 20 metre-deep cable, said the AFP in a statement.
The AFP investigators searched the vessel when it docked in Melbourne and seized ship logs. The offence carries a potential maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a $40,000 fine.
AFP Detective Superintendent Graeme Marshall said damage to a subsea cable can have serious financial consequences for both the cable operator and for customers who experience reduced connectivity and data access.
“The protection zone is clearly marked on maritime charts and all vessel Masters should ensure vessels operate in a manner which does not interfere with critical communications infrastructure,” AFP Detective Superintendent Marshall said.
The man was granted bail with strict conditions and is currently in COVID hotel quarantine.
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