Security Breached at Australian Port by Greenpeace Protesters

THE effectiveness of security procedures at the Australian port of Newcastle, New South Wales, is being questioned after protesters painted an anti-Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum slogan on the side of a berthed ship on Sunday, writes Lloyd's List DCN.

Eleven Greenpeace protesters were charged with malicious damage, and another with dangerous navigation, after vandalising NSS Endeavor while it was at Newcastle's Kooragang terminal. The protesters had enough time to write 'Australia Pushing Export Coal' on the 184,887 dwt bulker's starboard side and unfurl a banner before authorities intervened.

Shipping Australia chief Llew Russel said it appeared to be a breach of the no-go zone around the vessel.

'It would be fair to ask the port to comment on that,' Mr Russel said. 'What is it doing to prevent a recurrence? It is a total breach of security and what the shipping community wants to know is how it happened.'

A spokesman for the New South Wales ports minister referred questions on security to the Newcastle Port Corp, which was preparing a comment on the issue.

NSS Endeavor sailed at 1100 hrs yesterday, with the crew having removed the clay-based paint from the vessel.

Two protesters managed to shut down the Kooragang terminal for an hour in February when they chained themselves to a conveyor belt.

Yesterday's incident follows a similar incident involving the vandalism of a ship unloading genetically modified corn at the port in January 2003.

On that occasion, protesters also reached the vessel, the 74,002 dwt Ocean Emperor, and painted slogans on its bow.