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Biofoul delays Viking Orion from docking in Australia

A Viking ship is pictured in Sydney in this file photo. Viking Orion is scheduled to arrive Sydney on Jan. 4, according to AIS data
Viking Orion was unable to dock in Australia for a stretch of six days after biofoul was detected on its hull.

Officials in Adelaide discovered potentially harmful organisms, identified by some media as a sea snail, which had to be removed by divers before the ship could enter Australian waters.

Sydney on Jan. 4

That cleaning operation completed, Viking Orion put in to Melbourne on Monday for immigration clearance and is heading to Sydney for a scheduled Wednesday arrival.

'The ship has now returned to her planned itinerary,' Viking said in a statement, adding that this followed the cleaning of 'a limited amount of standard marine growth.' 

Australia's Marine Pest Sectoral Committee did not immediately answer emailed questions. (Update: Subsequently, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry provided further information — See 'Australia takes "education-first" approach on biofoul compliance')

Biofoul, or biological fouling, is the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae or small animals on a ship's hull. Australia routinely inspects for biofoul to prevent the introduction of potentially harmful non-native species.

Four ports missed

Viking Orion reportedly missed four ports of call. Viking said it is working on compensation. 

The 2018-built ship has capacity for 930 passengers. It is not known how many are onboard this cruise.