APL England Master charged in Queensland court

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Containers falling from APL England (AMSA photograph)

The Master of the APL England, the containership that spilled about 50 boxes into the sea off Australia on May 24, appeared before a Queensland magistrates court today to face two charges relating to the incident.

  • Section 26F of the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 – Discharging of garbage into the sea contrary to the Act
  • Section 141 of the Navigation Act 2012 – Master did not ensure that the vessel was operated in a manner that did not cause pollution to the marine environment in the coastal sea of Australia or the exclusive economic zone of Australia and damage to the marine environment in the coastal sea of Australia or the exclusive economic zone of Australia

These charges carry maximum penalties in excess of AUD 300,000 (about US$201,000). The case was adjourned to June 12 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

The APL England remains under detention in the Port of Brisbane and will not be released until what the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) terms its “serious deficiencies” have been rectified.

Yesterday, AMSA placed an additional requirement on the owner of the ship under the Protection of the Seas Act which must be met before the ship will be released from detention. This action seeks financial security from the insurers in the order of AUD 22 million (about US$15 million). “This provides a commitment that they will remediate all impacts of this incident,” says AMSA. “That $22 million covers estimated costs including that of a clean-up.”

AMSA says its inspections of the ship found inadequate lashing arrangements for cargo and heavily corroded securing points for containers on the deck.

“These inspection findings are a clear breach of requirements under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS),” says AMSA.

The unloading of the damaged containers has started and is expected to take several days to complete.

“Laying charges against the ship’s Master is not action we undertake lightly but this and other incidents remind us of the important role the ship’s Master has in ensuring the ships that ply our waters are operated safely and do not damage our marine environment,” says AMSA. “Today’s actions should not detract from the responsibility of the ship owner APL Singapore, insurer Steamship Mutual, and operator ANL who remain accountable for remediation of any impacts of this incident.

“We welcome ANL taking responsibility by engaging contractors to undertake shoreline clean-up and retrieve some of the floating containers this week, but the impacts of this incident could take months, if not years to remediate and we expect these efforts to be sustained for however long it takes.”

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