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End is nigh for Great Southern Shipping

End is nigh for Great Southern Shipping article image

The Australia/China start-up venture, Great Southern Shipping Australia Pty Ltd, has gone into liquidation, according to industry reports.

Lloyd’s List Australia, Australia's authoritative publication on shipping news, says it has seen documents confirming the company is to be wound up.

GSS was set up in May this year with Australian Paull Van Oost, chairman and chief executive officer in partnership with Rizhao Port Group.

According to industry sources the Chinese backed Rizhao Port Group withdrew in October, after investing an estimated US$5 million in the failed enterprise.

Cargo was stranded on three container vessels – Wehr Trave, Wehr Warnow, and Imara – after their owners terminated the charters, citing GSS failure to pay monies owed.

Efforts to discharge the cargo in Hong Kong and Port Botany, Sydney, were successful last week after month-long negotiations between advocacy group Freight and Trade Alliance Pty Ltd, which works in partnership with the Australian Peak Shippers’ Association, and shipowners Star Bulk & Tankers/Reederei Oskar Wehr from Germany and US-based Seachange Maritime.

Mounting debts

A notice of meeting of the creditors for GS Agencies, which went into liquidation in October, is scheduled today. No date has been set at time of writing for a meeting of GSS creditors, with industry sources calculating debts of between US$5-10 million.

According to the ASIC, David Iannuzzi and Steve Naidenov of Veritas Advisory have been appointed as liquidators.

GSS was originally set to run a fleet of six container vessels in partnership with Rizhao Port, largely financed by China.

The service was to provide express sailings from Rizhao, Shanghai, Yantian and Ningbo to Brisbane, Sydney, Bell Bay, Tasmania, and Fremantle.

Initially the fleet was to flag under the Australian International Shipping Register, employing Australian officers and trainees. However, this idea was abandoned prior to the first vessel, the Marshall Islands-flagged 2,526 teu vessel Wehr Trave sailing.

The service was plagued by delays and setbacks, with concerns it was facing bankruptcy first surfacing in October.

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