Section 184B Customs Act 1901 | Failing to Comply with Request to Board Foreign Ships


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The Legislation

Section 184B of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) deals with Failing to Comply with Request to Board Foreign Ships and is extracted below.

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184B Power to chase foreign ships for boarding

Generally, a foreign ship may be chased if it may be boarded and an order to stop is given

(1) To enable the boarding of a foreign ship under section 184A (apart from subsection 184A(9)), the commander of a Commonwealth ship or Commonwealth aircraft may use it to chase, or continue the chase of, the foreign ship to any place outside the territorial sea of a foreign country if:

(a) a visual or auditory signal:

(i) to bring the foreign ship to a position to enable boarding; or
(ii) to stop the foreign ship;
has been given (whether by the commander of the Commonwealth ship or Commonwealth aircraft or otherwise); and

(b) the signal was given in such a way that it could be seen or heard (as the case may be) by the foreign ship; and
(c) at the time the signal was given, the foreign ship was in a maritime zone in which it could be boarded under section 184A (regardless of the location of the Commonwealth ship or Commonwealth aircraft).

Note: Subsection 184A(9) is about boarding ships without nationality that are on the high seas. Section 185A allows those ships to be boarded, even though the master of the ship has not facilitated the boarding of his or her ship.

Signal made even if not seen or heard by foreign ship

(1A) To avoid doubt, a visual or auditory signal mentioned in subsection (1) is still made even if no person on board the foreign ship saw, heard or understood the signal.

Using different Commonwealth ships or aircraft

(2) To avoid doubt, a Commonwealth ship or Commonwealth aircraft may be used in the chase:

(a) whether or not it was a Commonwealth ship or Commonwealth aircraft referred to in section 184A in relation to the boarding of the foreign ship under that section; and
(b) whether or not the visual or auditory signal referred to in subsection (1) was given from the ship or aircraft.

When foreign ships may be chased without a request being made

(3) The commander of a Commonwealth ship or Commonwealth aircraft may use it to chase, or continue the chase of, a foreign ship to a place outside the territorial sea of a foreign country to enable the boarding of the foreign ship if, immediately before the start of the chase, the foreign ship could have been boarded under subsection 184A(5) or (7). Chase may continue even if the foreign ship is out of sight
(4) A chase under this section may continue even if the crew of all of the Commonwealth ships and Commonwealth aircraft involved in the chase lose sight of the chased ship or lose trace of it from radar or other sensing devices.

Chase may not continue after interruption

(5) The commander of a Commonwealth ship or Commonwealth aircraft must not use it to chase, or continue the chase of, a foreign ship under this section if the chase is interrupted (within the meaning of Article 111 of UNCLOS) at a place outside the outer edge of the contiguous zone. This subsection has effect despite subsections (1), (3) and (4).

Means that may be used to enable boarding of the foreign ship

(6) Anywhere outside the territorial sea of a foreign country, the commander of a Commonwealth ship or Commonwealth aircraft chasing a ship under this section may use any reasonable means consistent with international law to enable boarding of the chased ship, including:

(a) using necessary and reasonable force; and
(b) where necessary and after firing a gun as a signal, firing at or into the chased ship to disable it or compel it to be brought to for boarding; and
(c) where necessary, using a device designed to stop or impede a ship.