She is one of the stalwarts of Kimberley, sailing several seasons as one of a luxury flotilla which has turned an Australian icon into a global bucket list cruise destination. But this week, Caledonian Sky leaves for a new life

This month was to be her last Kimberley journey before she sets off for new adventures in the Pacific with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji.

But instead of sailing proudly straight to her new life, the Kimberley coastline pulled one last surprise on this wonderful example of small ship adventure cruising. She was arrested and held in Broome Harbour after complaints from a ship handling company.

She was forced to ride at anchor in Roebuck Bay, Broome Harbour, after Delta Corp Ship Management DMCCO and Nordic Hamburg Ship Management lodged a caveat in the Federal Court on August 25.

On September 4, more than a week later, the Federal Court ordered the release of the Caledonian Sky. Costs were reserved.

The ABC reported that she was under investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman on matters not related to the court case. APT denied any problems and said it was simply calculating the crew’s entitlements given that the ship had been sold an was about to be operated by a new charterer.

Ship arrests rare

The arrest of ships in the Kimberley is rare, with the last high profile case being the Island Escape vessel in 2022.

Captain Cook Fiji now has a long charter of Caledonian Sky and intends to use the venerable 32-year-old vessel to launch luxury expeditions to remote islands like Tonga, as well as sail island tours of three-seven days.

APT, her proud owner for more than a decade, issued a statement saying it had cooperated with all authorities and there was nothing untoward in the fact that it was settling all bills associated with the vessel, including the crew’s wages.

The MS Caledonian Sky is registered in the Bahamas under a Flag of Convenience arrangement. She is not alone in that regard – many shipping lines register their vessels overseas.

However, when the ship sailed in the Kimberley, it operates under a Temporary Licence which is issued by the Coastal Trading Act. That means she operates under the shipping and labour laws of Australia.