Flinders shipper must set sail to avoid breach

SOUTHERN Shipping will breach its $250,000 State Government contract if it does not sail to Flinders Island tomorrow.

The Bridport-based business has had its two vessels impounded at the Bridport wharf so that Marine and Safety Tasmania and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority can conduct surveys.

MAST had been due to investigate the Southern Condor yesterday for issues including oil and engine cooler leaks as well as an overdue replacement for exhaust lagging.

But MAST chief executive Colin Finch said the inspection had been changed and would take place today.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority was unavailable to comment on the Matthew Flinders yesterday.

Southern Shipping's office had not confirmed its shipping timetable late yesterday but managing director Geoffrey Gabriel said the vessels would probably sail today.

"Either one will go or they'll probably go over together," Mr Gabriel said.

"This isn't a story - why don't you check on the (Les Dick Shipping vessel) Statesman. It has blown its turbocharger and is sailing without a shipping manifest."

Mr Dick said that it was ridiculous for Mr Gabriel to be attempting to deflect attention.

"Unlike Southern Shipping we carry a spare and we had the turbo changed over in three hours and we only lost one minute from our shipping schedule," Mr Dick said.

"Of course we have a cargo manifest (paperwork) - how else would we get paid."

Mr Dick has been providing regular services to Flinders Island as a result of commercial demand and the Statesman is on standby to receive funding from the Transport Commission should Southern Shipping not meet its requirements.

Southern Shipping last visited Flinders Island on Wednesday, October 28.

A Forest Enterprises Australia spokesman said there had been some impact on its Flinders Island harvesting operations and deliveries as a result.

"We are closely monitoring the situation and are working with all parties involved," the spokesman said.

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